Welcome to MiSP’s series of 20 Top Tips for 2020. We have gathered together the 20 questions we are asked most often and, using a decade’s worth of experience in delivering mindfulness in schools, plus the experiences of our mindfulness community of more than 5,000 trained teachers, we provide the answers!
#4: There are disruptive pupils in my class. What should I do?
Depending on the cohort, their age, their personalities and their experiences, teaching mindfulness to children and young people can be challenging. Remember that whilst a child may be disruptive, they and their peers may also simultaneously be absorbing a great deal of the lesson content so may well be accessing some of the benefits of mindfulness even if it doesn’t always look like it.
There is a lot of really useful guidance in the ‘How to Teach .b/ Paws b’ booklets which offer support and ideas about classroom management and what to do if pupils are restless, giggly, dismissive, etc. This is the first place to look for tips. Remember that the content you are teaching this class will be very new to them, and it is worth bringing your own curiosity to the lessons and how they unfold.
That said, if you experience disruption you can always change the dynamic by playing one of the videos, revisiting learning from the last lesson, or getting the class to work in groups, focusing on the worksheets. This may help stop an individual child or small group holding up the whole class. It may also be helpful to give the individual or group of disruptive children your direct attention either during or after the class to help move them forward and get them more comfortable with the nature of the course.
Please also bear in mind that it is okay to switch out of mindfulness teacher mode and into a more usual behaviour management mode as necessary!
If you are an external teacher, we would recommend that you make time to talk with the regular Class Teacher/ Form Tutor/ Head of Year before starting the course to understand the likely group dynamics and plan some strategies up front. This might enable you to stop issues before they arise such as separating pupils known not to work well together, and understanding the school’s policy on behaviour in class and how to handle disruptive pupils. Additionally, we would advise that external teachers have a permanent class teacher or staff member who knows the cohort present in class with you so that they can help the class settle and support you as required.
Finally – you are not alone! Other MiSP trained teachers will share many of your experiences. Network with other trained teachers for encouragement and support. See our article from last week ‘The Lone Voice’ on ways to stay in touch with our community.