Supporting every teacher: 3 mindfulness tips for teachers

Kate Brierton

We’ve experienced significant change to our daily lives across the world over the last weeks. One of these, is the move from face-to-face teaching in the classroom, to teaching online. Kate Brierton is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and Wellbeing & Special Educational Needs Governor at Impington Village College. She presents and blogs for Cambridge University Press on compassion and wellbeing in education. This time, she’s sharing her 3 mindfulness tips for teachers facing big changes in their everyday work lives.

“The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

1. Accept the changes happening in your life

To help us accept changes – we first need to be able to accept and give ourselves permission to feel however we are feeling right now. There is no right or wrong way to feel about recent events. Individuals may feel quite differently to one another or experience conflicting emotions.

With regard to the change of teaching practice, you may feel anxious about learning new technology, whereas a colleague may be very excited to be trying new ways of working. You may feel sad about not seeing your students in the classroom but also glad that you get to spend more time with family. This is okay! All of these reactions are valid. It helps to make a special effort to ensure you are not judging or criticising yourself for your own emotional reactions. Cultivate an attitude of care, kindness and warmth towards yourself as we adjust to these changes.

2. Positive reframing

If you are experiencing a lot of uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, anxiety or frustration, then reframing your experience can help. Firstly, reframing the current situation from a crisis to a challenge moves us from our threat based emotional system into our problem-solving mind.

Another reframe might be considering that some of our losses (for example, time in the classroom or with colleagues) enables us to take up new opportunities. For example, developing our skills in online teaching practice. A number of my colleagues have been surprised at how much they enjoy working online and intend to keep up a portion of online practice when this period is over!

Additionally, if you’re concerned about your students, appreciate that this situation presents opportunities for them too. They will have the chance to take more individual responsibility for their learning. They may have more unstructured days and will  have to learn to structure their time, which is an invaluable skill and a move towards independence.

3. Mindfulness

Working from home and online feels slower and less stimulating that going out to work and being in different environments, with different people. This is an excellent chance to develop a mindful approach to living. Mindfulness grounds us in the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the founders of mindfulness practice in the Western world, defines it as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.

You can practise formal mindful meditation exercises. A number of meditation apps are giving away free meditation resources during the coronavirus period. However, you can also practise mindfulness in your daily activities too. Move out of your mind into your senses as you go about you daily routine. Try to notice what is happening around you, right here, right now. An example might be focusing on the warmth of your coffee cup for a few moments; or examining the shape of the clouds in the sky as you look out of the window.

Take a few moments now to try this mindful grounding exercise

Look around the room and notice five colours around you. Think carefully about the intensity and shade of the colours, perhaps naming them in your mind as you go

Move into your body and find four things you can feel. Such as the contact of your feet on the ground, or the rise and fall of your body as you breathe

Tune into the world of sound around you and notice three things you can hear

Use your sense of smell to notice two fragrances around you

Finally, see what you can taste.


Did you notice anything that you hadn’t been aware of before? It’s amazing how when we’re on autopilot, we miss so much of the rich sensory experience happening around us. This period is a chance for us to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Finally, we are all in this together. Reach out for help and support from those around you and in return, offer your assistance too. There is strength in vulnerability and we are stronger together.

Do you have teenage students who could benefit from mindfulness tips? Read our blog on Mindfulness For Teenage Learners by Megan Cherry.