So far, we have explored how using the Break and Breathe technique can help you and your students manage stress.
Now, let’s explore how you can incorporate Break and Breathe into classroom management!
This clip explains the connection between the concept of decontamination (using locations systematically) and Break and Breathe. It also shows the use of stepping your voice down when getting the class’ attention.
“Hey, Joan, did you get to practice your break and breathe technique over the past few days?” Shamika asked.
“Hey, Shamika. Yeah, I did, and I really think I have it down. I even tried it when I came home yesterday, and my husband hadn’t taken out the trash yet, again. I was able to think more clearly and then remember, oh yeah, Dan’s had a long, hard day, just like I have.” Joan replied.
“That’s so great. Just so I make sure I taught you in a way that made sense, can you tell me back to the main idea of break and breathe?”
“Oh, sure. So I need to figure out what stresses me out and when I can keep it from happening. That would be me noticing, ‘oh, I need to use Michael Grinder’s break and breathe technique.’ Then I move my body to the side, break, and I take a breath at the same time. I found it also helps me to take a second breath when I’m really stressed out,” explained Shamika.
Joan replied, “Great, you’ve really got it. Now let’s talk about how to use it in our classrooms”
Break and Breathe: Classroom Management
“One major way you can use it for management in your classroom is to help separate your role as a ‘behavior cop’ from your role as a ‘beloved teacher.’
This goes along with the idea of separating the physical place where you manage and discipline from the place where you teach,” said Shamika.
“Okay, I think I get it. Can you give me an example?” Asked Joan.
“Sure,” Shamika replied. “Let’s say you’ve given your class an assignment, and the kids have started socializing. You need to get their attention and bring their focus back to their work.
I go over to my management spot, separate from where I teach. I settle myself. I stand very still. Then I say a loud word or two to get attention. Give them a quick message and pause to let it sink in.
That pause is important. I might say something like this. ‘Boys (loudly) and girls (drop voice), you can do better.’
After you’ve given them the message, inhale deeply, freeze your body and hold your breath for as long as you can. Then step away and exhale deeply at the same time.
This helps you to release the personal stress of ‘behavior cop’ so that you don’t carry any of it with you as you transition back into your role of ‘beloved teacher.’
Without a word, I go back to my teaching spot, and voila, once again, they see their nice, unstressed teacher. The persona of the behavior cop is entirely left in your management spot.”
“Wow, it’s like magic!” Joan said excitedly.
“Actually, you’re kind of right. Mimes and magicians use the same idea. They guide people’s focus with nonverbals, so you see, it has all kinds of applications,” Shamika explained. “Want to see it again?”
“Sure,” said Joan.
Shamika walks to her management spot, stands very still, and says, “Boys (loudly) and girls (drop voice), you can do better.” She takes a deep breath, freezes, and then exhales and she steps back to her teaching spot.
“What if it’s just one or two kids goofing off?” Asked Joan.
“Same idea,” replied Shamika. “Say they’re lining up. Everything’s fine, except Jose and Dylan are wrestling. I might say, ‘Jose, Dylan,’ with a serious tone and no smile. Then when they quit, I break and breathe, and my face goes back to normal.
Simple and effective without contaminating your good relationship with the kids.
You know what? That’s enough for today on Break and Breathe. Try implementing it into your classroom tomorrow and let me know how it goes.
Oh, and also keep reviewing the Break and Breathe pages in Michael’s ENVoY book.”