“I’m pretty much done with mindfulness. I’m just going to start paying attention.” – Gina Barre (comedian)
This quote made me smile, it reinforces my cynicism of trends, although this post won’t go into that topic, but it will provide a quick strategy to focus a classroom and establish authentic attention. I stumbled upon this purely by accident but now use it regularly. It works for all ages and you can do it for yourself.
Balance on one leg.
That’s it. But framing is important. Have students stand, feet together all facing the same direction with a bit of space around them. Hands relaxed by their sides. Wait for quiet. Instruct students to find a point on the wall in front of them at eye height to focus on. Slowly lift/slide left foot on top of right so it is just resting on top of it. After a minute or so suggest if they feel comfortable they can lift their foot to their knee. Remind them to keep the focus on the point in front of them that ‘that focus helps them balance’ (and it does). After a minute slowly lower leg to stand on two feet. Repeat on the other foot. Done.
Remind those doing the activity if they start to wobble or get frustrated, to just quietly reset and start again. The calm approach is vital.
This is not necessarily something I use when kids are off task (but do as well). In my context with small groups creating dance or devising theatre in a large space, it gets loud. Even though students are working towards a goal it is sometimes good to pause, digest, reset and go again.
It works so well because it is a challenge. I am always surprised at how calm and focused the class is after this activity. I usually use it halfway through a lesson but it works well both as a starter and as part of a plenary as well. You can unpack it if you like, observations etc, and talk about the effects of concentration in helping you achieve a goal…
Feature image by Nela
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