As I drove today, composing this blog post in my head, I was so tempted to title it something like “The One Thing You Can Do For a Calm and Focused Classroom” or “The Secret to Classroom Management” and while those titles are flashy and accurate in a sense, they imply there is some great big secret out there that can solve all your classroom behavior problems with some magic potion. And in reality what I have discovered is painfully simple. Ready for it?
Breathing exercises for transitions or any old time your class needs to return to a calm and happy state. Plain and simple.
My class this past year was very energetic. More so than the average first grade class. Transitions were to be a huge challenge and problem in our classroom. We tried everything, problem solving as a class, very structured clean up routines, timing ourselves to see how quickly we could clean up while staying safe, you name it we, tried it. After a few weeks of trying different solutions, all of which had limited success, we began using a Hoberman Sphere to breath right before our class meeting. And it helped. And then a student suggested we use the Hoberman Sphere to help us calm down after recess. And that also helped. There is a great deal of science behind breathing but what really interested me was how dramatic of a difference I could see in my students and myself from 10 -15 deep breaths. It was remarkable. Then I went to a training and learned a new breathing exercise, which I promptly brought back to my classroom. And another. And soon we had about five breathing exercises that we used for every transition or anytime the energy in the room was beginning to rise. And while it didn’t transform our classroom into a utopia, it did help the classroom to be a calmer place where we were able to minimize transition time and increase learning time.
Our Classrooms Top 3 Breathing Exercises:
- Hoberman Sphere -fun and a great visual
- Square breathing: inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4
- 4, 7, 8- great TED talk about this here