If you’ve been following our series about brain breaks in the classroom you will know how important we find them to our students. In this day and age, it’s absolutely vital to make sure that we are giving our students time to collect themselves so they are able to focus and perform better in the classroom. They are not like previous generations and are physically different which makes it more difficult for them to concentrate and focus. As the adults in the room, we need to make sure that we recognize this and that we are giving them the opportunities to learn and police themselves when it comes to what their own bodies need in order to be able to perform their best in the classroom. But what about us? What about brain breaks for adults?
While we’re worrying about the students, we need to be worrying about ourselves as well. As Educators, in general, we have a tendency to put ourselves last on the priority list. But what about us? Sometimes we need a few minutes to collect ourselves too, but in a profession where you have just minutes a day to use the bathroom, how are we supposed to be able to take brain breaks when we need them the most? How many of us can honestly say that we sit down and have a full lunch every day where we can just decompress? I might happen sometimes but it’s very rare to do that consistently. We also need a few minutes here and there throughout the day to make sure that we are performing at our best. Brain breaks for adults shouldn’t take a back seat to everything else. Not only are they important for our own mental health, but they’re important to make sure that we are on top of our game for our students. They deserve that…and so do we.
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Brain Breaks for Adults
The easiest and most consistent way to do this for ourselves is to create a truly student-centered environment in our classroom. With the students being hands-on and us taking the role as facilitators and one-on-one helpers, it makes it easier to take a moment or two on the side of the room while students are working, without them being any of the wiser that we’re doing it. They’re still working hard, and it gives us the opportunity that we may need to make sure that we are on point. We’re still very active in the classroom and our interactions with our students in this environment are more important than ever, but it lends itself to be able to make sure that they are getting what they need to out of the activity and we are also getting what we need to out of that moment.
So what can we do during these moments that allow us to be able to collect ourselves without it being obvious to our students? Honestly just like we need to do what’s best for our students as individuals, we also need to do what’s best for us. You are the only person that truly knows what can get you level. It might be doodling, it might be having a few sips of coffee, it might be reading an article that interests you. You might take a few laps around the classroom, or if you have something fun like a coloring bulletin board you can take a moment and participate in that (which your students would love to watch you do). You also have the option when you need a brain break to have a full class brain break. There’s nothing saying that you can’t also participate in some of the activities that you have planned for your students (have you checked out Brain Break Bingo?). Maybe you need to be just as silly as they are in order to get together. If it’s more clerical, take 2 minutes and respond to an email that you have been watching in your inbox. Getting something like that crossed off your to-do list may be enough to help keep you grounded.
We always say that we want student buy-in, but often we need to remember that we need to lead by example. There’s nothing wrong with participating in what they are doing. Brain breaks for adults don’t have to be all “grown up”. We don’t have to necessarily be actively monitoring every single thing that’s going on in our classrooms. If they see us participating, they’re more apt to do the same. Teach them some yoga poses (which helps you AND them on a number of levels). Play a game and try to make it competitive. See who can do it better, you or them. Obviously, this is not appropriate for every activity that’s going on in your classroom, but again you have to figure out what’s going to work best for you. Go out on a limb and just try something, it might be wildly successful or it might not work out and you know next time either tweak it or try something different.
One concern with this is always what about if you end up having an observation at that exact moment. There’s nothing worse than when you sit down at your desk for the first time all day to do something quickly at your computer and your administrator walks in. We’ve all been there and can agree it’s the worst. But beyond that, if you’re engaging in something else, it shows that you are in tune with what your students are doing (or need at that moment) and that is what your administrator wants to see. As long as you can show that what you’re doing is important to the well-being of your students, then that is the most important part. That is a huge part of an observation rubric. If you can show that a brain break will help your students participate and focus even better (and you don’t have to mention you are partaking in one yourself), it shows that you have a handle on what’s going on in your classroom. Bonus points if you can get the administrator to join in as well. Now that creates some serious student buy-in!
It’s literally just important to take brain breaks for adults as it is for a student’s. We know our peers in other fields can run out for a cup of coffee or converse with a colleague whenever they need a moment to do so. We don’t have that luxury as a teacher, and our opportunities to do activities like this are a very small part of our day. But we need to make sure that we give ourselves opportunities 2 destress or get energized, whether this is before class starts, during class, or once our students leave. Sometimes we also need help with transitions just as our students do. There is no shame in finding a way to make sure that you are being the best version of yourself as a teacher as you try to allow your students to learn how to be the best versions of themselves.