Transitions in class can be a challenging time for pupils as they have to refocus and listen to instructions for their next task. During transitions, a significant amount of learning time can be lost as pupils may still be focused on their previous task and find paying attention to the new task difficult (McIntosh et al., 2004). As a result, pupils can be unsure of how to complete their new task and instructions may need to be repeated throughout. This can often lead to behavioral issues as pupils may refuse to move to their new task until the previous one is complete (Banerjee & Horn, 2012). While this can seem like defiance or behavioral issues, it could be a result of stress or pressure from a vast range of factors such as academic achievement or peer pressure. Pupils can also feel stressed or distracted on a wider scale by outside factors such as an unsettled home life or adverse childhood experiences (Kraayenbrink, Skaar & Clopton, 2018). Many mindfulness interventions in schools appear to have improved resilience to stress and improve cognitive performance and (Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz & Walach, 2014).
In order to learn successfully, teachers need to ensure that pupils feel relaxed in the classroom (Scottish Government, 2008). In secondary school, a major transition time occurs as pupils move between classrooms every 50 minutes. As such, pupils can be heavily distracted at the beginning of a lesson and do not feel ready to work. This can result in an extended period of pupils being unsettled when they arrive at a new class. S1 pupil feedback has raised concerns that these hourly transitions are causing high levels of stress, compared to the transitions they were used to in primary school. There are a wide range of adjustments for pupils when they move to secondary school. Therefore, having a few minutes at the beginning of a lesson to self-reflect and prepare themselves to learn could result in pupils feeling more relaxed.
Due to the wide range of barriers that could affect a pupils’ ability to learn, it is important that pupils’ health and wellbeing is taken into consideration and that they feel nurtured in their environment. Ensuring a calming start to a lesson could provide an environment where pupils feel more ready to learn. Research conducted has suggested that mindfulness could promote resilience in young people and encourage success (Kraayenbrink, Skaar & Kerri, 2018). As such, introducing a mindful pause at the start of a lesson could improve focus and ensure that pupils are ready to work. The hope is that pupils can take this time to reflect on anything that has happened prior to the beginning of a lesson and prepare themselves to move forward with their learning.
The aim of this enquiry was to introduce mindful pausing in the classroom and observe whether or not this would prepare pupils to learn and improve their focus.