Review – “Mindfulness For Teachers – Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom”

Mindfulness for Teachers –
Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity
in the Classroom

Author: Patricia A. Jennings, MEd, PhD.
Foreword: Daniel J. Siegel, MD.
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
ISBN #978-0-393-70807-3

Mindfulness For Teachers cover

“Mindfulness For Teachers” is quite literally a book on mindfulness written by a former teacher, and current associate professor of education at the University of Virginia. In his foreword Siegel defines mindfulness as being aware of what is happening within us and around us with a clear focus on the current moment, which enables us to be fully present for life. In short, at the same time we are living our experience, we are stepping outside of ourselves and observing it. This concept applies to all of us, no matter what our vocation. In my opinion, this book is a must read for all people, of all backgrounds and cultures. There is no better way to be the best person that you can be than to live your life in a mindful manner.

Note: This book is part of a new Norton education series that builds on the interdisciplinary approach of interpersonal neurobiology.

This book reflects Jenning’s personal experience in a classroom, and as a researcher. We have all been in classroom situations, albeit most of us as the student, and not the teacher.  But we can put ourselves in the teacher’s place, and understand the situations being presented. And we can take that wisdom into our own professional fields, to make ourselves better people.

In her preface, Jennings notes that this book is a direct reflection of her forty year journey as a mindfulness practitioner, an educator, and a scientist. One of the first things that she learned was that mindful awareness has the power to heal.

In her introduction, Jennings talks about the challenging situations that teachers are facing, including the fact that teachers are not really prepared for the social and emotional demands of the classroom. Students are coming to school less prepared, yet at the same time new levels of accountability demand that academic improvement be demonstrated. She notes that the aim of “Mindfulness For Teachers”   is to help teachers cultivate the skills that they need to promote a calm, relaxed but enlivened learning environment.

In this book, Jennings covers an overview of what mindfulness is, understanding the emotional nature of teaching, understanding negative emotions, understanding the power of positive emotions, self-care in teaching, dealing with classroom dynamics, and transforming our schools through mindfulness. As you can see, a great deal of this information can be applied to any vocation.

Bottom line – mindfulness is present moment, non-judgmental awareness.  Sounds easy, but it is a concept that needs to be worked at to work. Jennings gives us specific examples, and solutions to those examples. Each chapter talks about behaviors that need to be developed. And how we can use our senses to our advantage. Skill sets are presented, as well as information on how to develop them. Each chapter is a stand-alone, yet it builds on the chapters before it.

At the end of the book is an extensive set of resources, including a listing of books on mindfulness, education, parenting, emotions, and children’s books; mindfulness-based programs; and an extensive reference section.

“Mindfulness For Teachers” is written in a manner that is in depth, yet easy to understand and apply. While directed at teachers, it applies to all of us. It is a book that one can use as a reference whenever experiencing difficulty. If you want to grow, if you want to make a difference,  become a mindful person!

© July 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.