Peace in the classroom: Meditation for teachers and students
Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd.
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Teachers need to be continually searching for new ways to manage themselves in an increasingly demanding profession and to give their students strategies to cope with the demands of their own lives. Inappropriate student behaviour adds to teacher stress and reduces quality teaching and learning. This paper reveals how meditation was introduced to five teachers in a disadvantaged primary school setting in New South Wales, Australia, as a means by which they could manage their own responses to stressful situations more effectively, and teach their students to manage their own behaviour. The teachers undertook a staff development program which guided them both personally and professionally in the use of meditation throughout an eight week program. The findings revealed that the teachers were able to reduce personal anxiety and stress, develop more positive relationships with their students, and create a more peaceful teaching and learning environment. Some also stated that the “mindfulness” that accompanied their meditation improved their skills of observation, data collection and reflection. The teachers were also able to teach meditation to their students, who demonstrated an increased ability to monitor their own behaviour both in and out of school as they developed alternatives to negative and destructive behaviours. In some cases this was reflected in greatly reduce periods of time spent in “time out”. An outcome of particular interest was the fact that the primary-aged boys responded to meditation more seriously than girls.