Mindful meditation in schools
Stress and anxiety among school children has been in the news a lot in recent months, and the health services are under strain in coping with what appears to be a rise in mental health problems. With over 10 years' experience teaching in secondary schools, I have first hand knowledge of just how stressful the demands for ever-higher grades can be on students and teachers alike.
Some schools are well-equipped and well-funded, and employ youth workers or pastoral staff who are there to work with those students who have high levels of anxiety, depression and stress, and who are struggling to meet their potential because of this. Unfortunately, due to funding cuts to education, the majority of schools are not in such a fortunate position, and any additional pastoral support required for students falls back on the already overloaded teaching staff.
One of my former colleagues told me about a student who had collapsed during a mock exam, and another mentioned just how many GCSE students would be taking their exams in separate rooms because they could not cope with the high anxiety levels associated with the exam hall full of their peers.
In a bid to make a difference, I have been introducing mindful meditation for exam groups, to enable them to learn how to relax and ground themselves; how to focus better during revision and exam time, and in general how to manage the levels of stress they have been experiencing.
This has been successful enough that I have been invited back to run more classes for the Year 11's next year, before they take their mock GCSE's. Working with these groups is a privilege, and a great opportunity for them to learn in good time some excellent stress-management tools and strategies, so that the only thing they should need to be concerned about, come the exams, is doing the best they can and feeling good about it.