How do I fit Paws b or .b into the timeframe I have available?
School lessons/sessions can be anywhere between 20 and 55 minutes long, and perhaps you have 4 lessons allocated to mindfulness or maybe it is a whole term’s worth of lessons! Given this huge variation, what is the best way to fit our curricula into the time you have available? In this article we advise how you can …
condense or s t r e t c h
our lessons depending on the slots available to you for teaching mindfulness.
First things first – the intention
Firstly, let’s remember our intention in teaching these curricula. We teach Paws b and .b to enable the children and young people we are teaching to access the benefits of mindfulness. Our intention is to for them to learn about mindfulness via theory and practice, so that they develop lifelong skills. The also learn from us modelling mindfulness! So our intention is not to tick a box that every lesson has been taught, nor to race through content in a way that that prohibits learning. When you are planning how to fit our curricula to the time you have available, follow these principles, founded on the research evidence:
- Deliver the lessons in sequence. Each lesson builds on previous learning and (more importantly) on previous mindfulness practice and enquiry.
- Include the key mindfulness practice for that lesson (however short) in every lesson. If you teach nothing else, teach the practices!
- Encourage your students to complete the home practice. .b students can access dotbe.org and you can motivate all students to practise using our mindfulness practice record!
If you don’t have many lessons…
If you only have a few sessions available to you, of any length, don’t try to condense the whole Paws b or .b course into a shortened period. As with an adult mindfulness course, the home practice and week between each session allows for a deeper understanding of both the theory and practice. Each lesson builds on this, so it wouldn’t be wise (or even safe) to whizz through all the lessons over a shorter period of time.
It is better to spend more time on just a few lessons than try to cover the whole course in a short period of time. If you are able to take the group at a later stage, it’s then possible to carry on with subsequent lessons. So that means that if you only have four sessions available, you simply teach lessons 1-4 this time. Hopefully, you may get another opportunity in the future to teach some or all of the remaining lessons next term or even next year. In some schools, the lessons are split across year groups in this way so that every school year has some mindfulness input as part of the curriculum.
If your lesson time is very short…
If you only have 30 minutes or so, that is fine for Paws b which is designed to be taught in 30 minute chunks, but more challenging for .b which would ideally have 40-60 mins. You can teach .b lessons in 30 minutes, but we would advise you look for the little stick figures at the top of some of the pages in the teacher boklet that accompanies each lesson. They indicate the ‘must teach’ sections fo the lesson, and could be covered (just about) in 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could split each lesson into two sessions, making sure that each session begins with a settling practice and review before diving back into the main body of the lesson.
If you have plenty of lessons or lots of time in each session…
If you have more than enough lessons to teach the course, then you have some choices!
- You can extend each lesson and split it over more than one session, taking time to extend the practice, perhaps having more discussion either as a whole class or in groups, and of course there are plenty of activities included in the materials, such as worksheets to complete. The material can be stretched to fill 90 minutes – two hours if need be! As long as the lessons are taught in order, it is fine to do this.
- You can teach additional lessons available in the Hub. For Paws b, once the 12 lessons have been taught, you can move on to teach .breathe, the four lesson curriculum for 9-14 year olds covering attention, worry, sleep and relationships. This is particularly suitable for children approaching school transition and adolescence, but is not suitable for younger students. For .b, once the 10 lessons have been taught, you can move on to .b2, the four extension lessons which review what was learned in the previous ten lessons, the dive deeper into themes of reactivity, our relationship with technology, and compassion for self and others. Both .breathe and .b2 lesson Powerpoint slides and Teacher Notes are downloadable in the Hub.
- Some schools repeat our curricula, teaching it once in an earlier year group and then again in an older year group, for example teaching .b in both Year 7 and Year 11. It is surprising how going through the sessions again brings with it new learning.
- Ideally, if you can, you could provide regular mindfulness opportunities across each year group, so that mindfulness can be embedded as part of the school’s ethos. Students can’t ‘unlearn’ the mindfulness techniques they’ve been taught, and they can see more benefit by having opportunities to continue to practise them.
What about gaps between sessions?
Gaps in the course can be an inevitable part of schools scheduling, so a gap of a few weeks’ holiday is not a problem. Or a gap of a term or two is not an issue, so long as the lessons are taught in sequence, and each new block of teaching involves some form of review of previous learning and practice.
- Learn about .breathe
- Find out about .b2 (requires Hub login)
- Find resources to use around your school