Dr. Patricia Jennings talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom.
"We often get depressed about the past - what happened in the past. When we focus our attention on the present, it helps reduce both anxiety and depression." ~Patricia A. Jennings
Patricia had been practicing mindfulness and meditation even before she started teaching, and she realized that her practice of meditation helped her manage the emotional demands of being a teacher in a classroom full of children. She observed that, often, the behaviors that the teachers needed to manage created a negative emotional reaction in them, such as anger and frustration, and that the beginner teachers had a difficult time reflecting on such experiences. Patricia realized that teachers could benefit from practicing mindfulness, but she didn’t do so until she had done more research on the topic, which led her to get her doctorate studying stress and coping, after which she developed programs to help teachers manage their emotions through mindfulness, and gave the example of a beginning teacher who, after undergoing training in mindfulness, was able to make a subject that her students greatly resisted, interesting.
The concept of mindfulness is based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work, which is based on stress reduction, and the definition of mindfulness is “paying attention to the present non-judgementally.” In other words, being aware of what is happening in the present moment, both within oneself and outside and oneself in a way that these are perceived very clearly. Mindfulness might be inherent in some personality traits, but it can also be practiced and can help people realize their conditioned responses to particular situations, such as being late.
While Patricia’s book is aimed primarily at teachers, she notes that the lessons within have helped readers who weren’t teachers in other aspects of their lives, such as parenting, and that the lessons within can help out anybody.
Patricia hopes that, at the end of the day, mindfulness can help teachers do their work in the classroom by understanding the entirety of the students they teach, particularly those who have suffered trauma and are acting out negatively due to that. She sees mindfulness as directly helping students as well. She says she wants to return to teaching students at some point in the future and use all the tools and techniques that she has learned over the years. She’s found her calling in teaching and she definitely has no desire to return to being a secretary for a real estate agent, which was where she started her working career. We should all be thankful for her choice.
Purchase on Amazon: Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom