Today, I presented at a conference for preschool teachers. It was an all day affair, and I was with the same group for the morning and afternoon session. They were thoughtful, engaged, and a pleasure to be around. We packed a lot of learning into the first and second sessions, and by 20-minutes before the scheduled dismissal time, I felt the energy in the room start to tank. Instead of forging ahead with a lengthy debrief activity, we did a final short relaxation and I sent them on their way, 15 minutes early.
One of the skills I have found most helpful in my mindfulness practice is attuning to the room. When we pause, we may notice subtle shifts in the direction of winding up or winding down. While we don’t always have the freedom to let our students leave as I could with my conference participants, reading to the room can help us decide if we are going to forge ahead with the next lesson or take a break. We can tell if we’ve lost everyone and need to take a fresh approach or if they are hanging on our every word.
Take moments to pause in your teaching. Stop moving and look around. What do you notice about the body language? What do you sense about where everyone is emotionally and engagement-wise? How can you proceed most effectively, given what is in front of you?