Our group research inquiry focused on the implementation of mindful pausing in the classroom. Particularly, we aimed to research its use before starting lessons, probing whether or not this would have a positive effect on learner engagement, in relation to their readiness to learn, and the overall well-being of the pupils. In summary, we aimed to use mindful pausing as a pre-emptive strategy to help the children settle in class and be ready to work, as we know that children come in from a variety of different family lives.
The integration of mindfulness in the modern classroom has been greater explored in recent years. The practice of mindfulness has been promoted as a way to help children regulate their stress and anxiety, which consequently can improve academic and behavioural outcomes With the Scottish Attainment Challenge (2015) being a major focus within education and its target of increasing attainment in numeracy, literacy and health and wellbeing, it is relevant that the use of mindfulness be explored within Scottish classrooms. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the toxic stress suffered by children. Toxic stress can, in basic terms, change a child’s brain and impair their “natural” development, reducing their capability to focus when in class. In summary, mindfulness practices can equip children with the tools necessary to regulate their stress and anxiety feelings, helping them to focus and succeed in the classroom.
Though research was carried out in both primary and secondary schools, the methodologies used to gather our data were consistent. Questionnaires, daily and weekly logs, pupil focus groups, plickers, learner conversations and reviews of pupil work were all carried out during the investigatory process. Questionnaires were used prior to and upon conclusion of the study, to gauge prior knowledge and reveal the differences arisen after the process. The other data collection methods were used to monitor and track progress over the research period which enabled us as practitioners to see the full effect of mindful pausing on our classes. The mindful pausing process itself took the form of guided meditation videos, stories and relaxing music.
Our findings were mainly positive, children became engaged in the process, taking ownership of this time and looking forward to it every day. From the practitioner’s perspective, we could collectively identify improvements in resilience, focus, readiness to learn and attainment. Children were able to develop a deeper understanding of the concept and developed autonomic feelings towards it, providing suggestions to enhance the process. However, some key caveats were identified. Firstly, disruptive behaviour was evident in some studies, as children were not able to access the benefits of the process due their own additional support needs. Additionally, some children were noted to become disengaged over time, providing the grounds for further research into how best to remove these barriers.
Our research studies provided valuable evidence into the benefits and limitation of using mindful pauses within the classrooms. The positive effects are evident, and we believe that this process is accessible to a wide range of learners, from primary through to high school and beyond, as it merely requires a small pocket of time, a digital media resource and some thinking from the learners. However, we all agree on the need for more time to research its full potential and the fact that some children encountered barriers to accessing it, illustrates that there is a need for more research on how best to provide inclusion for them. As a group we are happy to take this forward in some capacity into our future classes, be that as a pre-emptive or retrospective strategy.