First Day of Class: A Demonstration

Dr. Pearl Ratunil

Dept of English

pratunil@harpercollege.edu

Reflection Writing

On a piece of paper or laptop reflect on the following question, and write for 5-7 minutes.

After the reflection, we will have a conversation about our responses.

THE REFLECTION

Remember yourself at an earlier age (this could be age 10, 15, 25, etc).  What did you think you would be doing at the age you are right now?  Did you imagine yourself doing what you do now?  What did you imagine for yourself at that age, and how is it different from what actually happened?  What profession did you imagine you would have?

Begin in a relaxed manner, just writing to reflect.

~~~~~~

First Day of Class Tips: The Highlights

Before the first day:

  • Locate your classroom and use your keys/keycard – may need to contact Harper Police for room access. Anticipate 20 mins for this.
  • Bring supplies like a dry-erase marker
  • Try the computer podium
  • Decide how students should address you

FIRST DAY – Overview of Listed Sources

  • Make sure students are in the correct section.  Have them take out their schedule and double check the section numbers.
  • Introduce yourself and pronounce your name slowly – using the desired address:  Dr./Professor/Mr or Ms.
  • Establish rapport/create relationships
  • Overview syllabus and course subject
  • Establish classroom climate and tone (lecture, group work, flipped, blended)
  • Consider using ice breakers (student interviews, memory games, group activities). Recommended that it be related to course content.
  • Meet for the full period to establish expectations and rapport
  • **Whatever you plan to do during the semester, do it on the first day.

POST FIRST DAY

  • Write short notes on how it went — what would you do differently? Did the student ask a question about registration or course credits that you couldn’t answer?  Did you forget something?
  • Talk to your peers about their first days. Get ideas, establish relationships with other teachers which is our best resource.

Annotated List of Sources

SAMPLE STRATEGY FOR LEARNING NAMES AND CREATING RAPPORT

Map it out. … take out [a] piece of paper and pencil. Set the paper down lengthwise. You are about to make a seating chart that maps out your class. Now, take your piece of chalk and write on the board: “Who are you?” and “Why are you here?.”  Start in the corner of the room and go row by row, encouraging each student to give new answers to these broad existential questions.  [SOURCE:http://chronicle.com/article/The-First-Day/136221/]

SAMPLE STUDENT REFLECTION FOR FIRST DAY

Imagine a typical day in your life ten years from now and describe it in detail. Where are you living? What job do you have? What kind of car do you drive? Do you commute? Work at home?  Do you eat breakfast at home? Do you drink coffee? Also describe your emotional or psychological state. Are you happy?  Are you a busy person?  Are you enjoying life?  Write in present tense and describe your typical day on _______ [today’s date but 10 years hence, e.g.  August 14, 2027].

Being a Mindful Teacher

Dr. Pearl Ratunil

Chair, Academy for Teaching Excellence

Harper College

 

 

How can Mindfulness create a classroom that inspires

and supports both the students and  the teacher?

INSIGHTS ON BRINGING MINDFULNESS AND

CONTEMPLATIVES PRACTICES TO TEACHING AND LEARNING

What is  Mindfulness? 

mindfuless

A Tale of Three Scientists

(Left to Right)

Dr. Richie Davison, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, University of Massachusetts Medical School, creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – a blend of meditation and yoga for secular settings

Dr. Amisha Jha, University of Miami, Florida

 

How it Helps Teachers

It helps the Instructor establish his/her own mood of calmness, clarity and openness.

Mindfulness is just one in a set of Contemplative Practices

contemplative tree

THE NEUROSCIENCE

An fMRI study with college students (Creswell, Way, Eisenberger, and Lieberman, 2007) found that those higher in MAAS-measured dispositionalbrain map of amygdalamindfulness showed less reactivity to emotionally threatening visual stimuli, as indexed by lower amygdala activation, as well as stronger prefrontal cortical (PFC) activation, suggestive of better executive control.  More mindful students also showed a stronger inhibitory association between PFC and amygdala, suggesting better regulation of emotional reactions.  Other recent research has shown that induced mindful states can produce a quicker recovery from negative mood states, in comparison to other, common regulatory strategies like distraction and rumination (Broderick, 2005)

–  “Toward the Integration of Meditation into Higher Education: A Review of Research Evidence” published Contemplative Mind in Society (2008), republished under same title in Teachers’ College Record 113. 3 (2011) : 493-528

Benefits of Meditation for Attention

  • improves attentional performance
  • increased efficiency of networks recruited during the attention and impulse control
  • meditation may change brain morphology and function, particularly in areas related to attention and response selection

[Source:  “Meditation training increases brain efficiency in an attention task,”  Neuroimage 59 (2012): 745-9]

Short video summary of the neuroscience of mindfulness and the brain.

The Instructor’s State:  In a moment of stress, notice your state first before you act.

Your-Mind-At-Work

The role of empathy, compassion and Deep Listening 

“Listening brings people closer; not listening creates fragmentation” – Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, p. 145

 

Exercises to Cultivate Listening in Instructor and Student

  1.  Ambient Sound  (For student and Instructor)
  • Try to sit stable and still, like a mountain. Be relaxed and alert. Close your eyes.
  • Listen to the sounds as they occur.  Do not imagine, name, or analyze the sounds.  As names arise, release them, and return to listening
  • Just listen with wide-open awareness.
  • Notice how the sounds arise and fall away

2.  Listening to a Partner  (Classroom Application)

Everyone finds a partner.  One person speaks; the other listens.  The listener listens as carefully as possible, letting go of interpretations, judgments, and reactions, as well as irrelevant thoughts, memories, plans.  When the speaker finishes, the listener repeats as closely as possible what the speaker said, until the speaker feels truly heard.

DEMONSTRATION OF A CLASSROOM PRACTICE

Take a few minutes to describe a challenge or obstacle that you experienced in your own educational or career path.

  1. Instruction to both partners:  One partner will spend 3-5 minutes speaking about [some aspect of course content].
  2. Instruction to listener:  Listen without judgment.  Listen in silence.  Give your full attention to the speaker.  Don’t ask questions.  You may acknowledge with facial expressions or by nodding your head.  Do not coach or lead.  Let the speaker use his/her own words.  If the speaker runs out of things to say, give the speaker silence to reflect or stop.
  3. Instruction to the listener:  Now repeat the story the speaker just told.  Don’t worry about memorizing — paraphrase.  Have the speaker correct you or ask for clarification or correction.
  4. To the speaker:  Give the listener feedback.  Did you feel heard?
  5. Now, switch roles using a different prompt or course content.

[Adapted from Barzebat and Bush,  Contemplative Practices in Higher Education (2014)

Listening Exercise Outcomes

  • Students become responsible for the “re- telling the story”
  • Students develop attention, memory, listening
  • Students encounter the course content through another medium beside lecture, textbook, digital media.

Deep Listening and Conflict:  The Instructor’s Experience

“When we attune with others we allow our own internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of “feeling felt” that emerges in close relationships. Children need attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives we need attunement to feel close and connected.”

Daniel Siegel, Mindsight (2010)

Daniel Siegel, a neurobiologist, points to the benefit of “feeling felt” by children in the early stages of development, but this also applies to a student  in the classroom who has experienced a “compassionate” instructor.  Using the research by Tania Singer (2004) on empathy vs. compassion, Siegel argues that there is distinct difference between empathy which leads to burn-out and compassion which imagines a plan for carrying out a solution.  From the neuroscience perspective, empathy use the same neural network that experiences physical pain (inferior parietal/ventral premotor cortices), while compassion uses a completely different work that create positive of love and affilition (precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex) .

[sources: Neuroimage  (Feb 2011); Mindsight (201); Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences (April 2009).]

ASSESSMENT: SEEKING STUDENT FEEDBACK

Blackboard can be used to do short surveys of the contemplative practices employed. Sample questions:

  • What is your opinion about the short focusing periods we have been doing at the beginning of our class meetings?
  • How do you feel during those two minute breaks?
  • Would you want them longer, shorter, or completely gone?

Administered as an add-on to a quiz in Blackboard

– Jon Brammer, Three Rivers Community College, CT

Results of Assessment

“I had 23 students respond-everyone in the section- and the responses were generally very good. 21/23 liked the brief “chill time” periods, but they were mixed in terms of wanting them longer. I would guess there were 6-7 who wanted the time increased to five minutes or more. No student thought they should be shorter than the two minutes.

Of the two folks who didn’t see any benefit, one thought it was a waste of time and the other was completely neutral.”  – via email from J. Brammer

Highlights

  • Mindfulness in education does not treat the student as object, but cultivates the qualities desired in the student in the instructor, too.  Our own ability to be present, awareness, compassionate is important to cultivating those same qualities in students
  • The positive outcomes of mindfulness (greater attention, focus, compassion, positive feelings) are cultivated through the frequent and regular application of mindfulness and contemplative practices
  • Contemplative practices is more than just mindfulness and includes journaling, walking, storytelling and other practices that cultivate the brain’s abilities to focus, to attend, and be compassionate.

 

CLOSING MINDFULNESS EXERCISE: COMPASSION

Continuing to breathe in and out, use either these traditional phrases or ones you choose yourself. Say or think them several times.

May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.

May I be free of mental suffering or distress.

May I be happy.

May I be free of physical pain and suffering.

May I be healthy and strong.

May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

Full instructions at  http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/loving-kindness

 

Helpful Articles and Websites

Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education

http://www.contemplativemind.org/programs/acmhe

“Mindfulness in Higher Education” http://www.washington.edu/teaching/2014/10/07/mindfulness-in-higher-education/

“Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers”

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_mindfulness_can_help_teachers

“Mindfulness in the Classroom”

https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/contemplative-pedagogy/

Learning Mindfulness with Phone Apps

Headspace: https://www.headspace.com/how-it-works

Insight Meditation Timer:  https://insighttimer.com/guided-meditations

 

 

Book Discussion: Contemplative Practices in Higher Education

A discussion and exploration of contemplative pedagogy described by in Contemplative Practices in Higher Education by Daniel Barzebat and Mirabai Bush

Academy for Teaching Excellence

Harper College, Nov 13, 20015

PRACTICES DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK

Mindfulness  p. 97

Lectio Divina p. 115

Contemplative Writing p. 133

Sound Meditation p.139

Mindful Listening p. 144-5

Beholding p.155

Walking p. 161

Lovingkindness p. 179

Related links and images

~~

What is Mindfulness?

mindfuless

What is the science of mindfulness?

A short video summary:

~~~

THE NEUROSCIENCE

An fMRI study with college students (Creswell, Way, Eisenberger, and Lieberman, 2007) found that those higher in MAAS-measured dispositionalbrain map of amygdalamindfulness showed less reactivity to emotionally threatening visual stimuli, as indexed by lower amygdala activation, as well as stronger prefrontal cortical (PFC) activation, suggestive of better executive control.  More mindful students also showed a stronger inhibitory association between PFC and amygdala, suggesting better regulation of emotional reactions.  Other recent research has shown that induced mindful states can produce a quicker recovery from negative mood states, in comparison to other, common regulatory strategies like distraction and rumination (Broderick, 2005)

–  “Toward the Integration of Meditation into Higher Education: A Review of Research Evidence” published Contemplative Mind in Society (2008), republished under same title in Teachers’ College Record 113. 3 (2011) : 493-528

brain images

Benefits of Meditation for Attention

  • improves attentional performance
  • increased efficiency of networks recruited during the attention and impulse control
  • meditation may change brain morphology and function, particularly in areas related to attention and response selection

[Source:  “Meditation training increases brain efficiency in an attention task,”  <em>Neuroimage </em>59 (2012): 745-9]

~~~

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

~~~

EXERCISE IN BEHOLDING & CONTEMPLATIVE WRITINGImage result for AURORA BOREALIS PICS

Contemplate this image.  What ideas/thoughts/feelings/memories arise in your mind as you examine this picture? Write for 10 minutes in as much detail as possible.

~~~

ASSESSMENT: SEEKING STUDENT FEEDBACK

Blackboard can be used to do short surveys of the contemplative practices employed. Sample questions:

  • What is your opinion about the short focusing periods we have been doing at the beginning of our class meetings?
  • How do you feel during those two minute breaks?
  • Would you want them longer, shorter, or completely gone?

Administered as an add-on to a quiz in Blackboard

– Jon Brammer, Three Rivers Community College, CT

Results of Assessment

“I had 23 students respond-everyone in the section- and the responses were generally very good. 21/23 liked the brief “chill time” periods, but they were mixed in terms of wanting them longer. I would guess there were 6-7 who wanted the time increased to five minutes or more. No student thought they should be shorter than the two minutes.

Of the two folks who didn’t see any benefit, one thought it was a waste of time and the other was completely neutral.”  – via email from J. Brammer

VIDEO GREETING FROM AUTHORS

WRITING REFLECTION

We will now take some to write contemplatively in response to Dan and Mirabai’s questions.  What would you like to tell them about your experience with their book?  Your answers will posted on this website and be made available to the authors.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Conferences and Intensive Training

  1. Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy.   A week-long intensive held every August at Smith College, Northampton, MA  http://www.contemplativemind.org/programs/summer
  2. Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education Conference. http://www.contemplativemind.org/programs/conferences
  3. International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (emphasis on neuroscience):  http://www.iscs2014.org/
  4. Advances in Meditation Research:  http://meditation2015.com/  (neuroscience/medical)

Join the Contemplative Mind in Society for updates and webinars:  http://www.contemplativemind.org/

What’s a “practice” and do I have one?

In Chapter 4-6 of Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, Barzebat and Bush describe practices that teachers can include in teaching such mindfulness, lectio divina, and journal writing.  Before they begin the descriptions, however, they emphasie the importance of a practice of one’s own before even beginning.  This is probably the most important point, but if you’re new to this style of teaching, it may be the first obstacle that leads to a question: what if you don’t have a practice?

For some of us, we may have been in long established tradition of yoga or meditation, the ones that are usually considered “contemplative,” but Barzebat and Bush also include the tree of contemplative practices (p.10), and if we look at that description, we might find that we (to our surprise) have a practice such as writing or music or social justice work.   Then, even after looking at this list, we may still think:  I don’t have a practice.  Can I even do this?

Before we meet on Friday, spend a little time in reflection: do you have a “practice”?  If not, what would you like to learn to practice? Has anything ever drawn you?  Or, are you doing something already that could be a practice that isn’t on the tree, such as crafting (knitting, crochet, etc) or running?

What would you call your practice?

How Important Is This Really?

In his Forward to the book Contemplative Practices In Higher Education, Parker Palmer begins rather controversially attributing the “malfeasance of well-educated leaders” in business, education, finance, politics, and health to “an objectivist model of knowing, teaching and learning that has dominated, and deformed, higher education” (vii). Palmer goes on to say that this model is a “false conception of science” which creates distance between “the knowner and the known.” Palmer’s statement is preparation for the pedagogy outlined in the book, a contemplative pedagogy which intends to return education to its roots: self-understanding and ethics. It’s a bold claim, even for me, someone who has been studying contemplative practices since 2001 (meditation, yoga, tai chi, council, and non-violent communication) and been using contemplative pedagogy at Harper since 2011. However, perhaps this is exactly what a Foreward should do: invite us to read more even (especially) if we disagree.

Daniel Barzebat’s Preface softens the approach begun by Palmer, in his own reflection on teaching which invites a reader to consider his or her experience of the classroom. Daniel writes:

It is hard to say exactly how it happened but over the years I lost my way teaching economics. I knew the material and knew I could do the job of writing down and getting through a syllabus, but I could not say what I was really doing…. At one point, I realized that I was simply going through the motions and that if I couldn’t find myself in my work, I should find other work. (xiv)

Daniel described a situation that also brought me to contemplative pedagogy. A moment when I found myself standing in front of an English class, hearing myself say things to them that I wasn’t sure I believed anymore. Is a thesis that important? I heard a voice say inside of me while I was saying that a thesis was really important to a classroom of students.

Daniel finds the origin for many of us who might be trying to find something “new” to do in our teaching which inspires not just our students, but ourselves.

As you read, notice if anything resonates with you. For me, it was Daniel’s story. What is it for you? Did you have a moment similar to mine or Daniel’s? When you might have felt outside of your own teaching? Or, have you generally felt engaged with your classrooms, and just looking for something to add to your experience?

To add a comment to this posting, click leave a reply below and add your reflection in the box and submit. Or, you can email me at pratunil@harpercollege.edu.