“The way you speak to yourself matters.”
In this blog, we will continue our discussion of how mindfulness can support SEL high leverage practices. Another SEL high leverage practice is providing feedback that is “positive, instructive, and corrective” (McLeskey et al., 2019, p. 95). The feedback should be specific and given as soon as possible after the desired behavior occurs. Special educators should also provide feedback that is sincere and appropriate, based on the context and situation. Another consideration when it comes to providing feedback is being aware of the student’s cultural background and experiences (McLeskey et al., 2019). Following these guidelines can help special educators provide constructive feedback that supports the academic and behavioral learning for their students.
Practicing mindfulness can support this additional SEL high leverage practice. And it begins with adopting and practicing a nonjudgmental approach when providing feedback to students. A key piece to practicing mindfulness is fostering a nonjudgmental attitude, which allows individuals to not immediately judge something as good or bad. Rather, they accept the feeling, emotion, and/or experience as it is in a nonreactive way. Although it sounds easy enough, cultivating a nonjudgmental attitude can be extremely challenging. But one approach that can help with this is observing your judgment. Observing your feelings and emotions will help you be more aware and separate yourself from them. Your feelings and emotions will have less of an effect on you if you learn to take yourself out of the picture. This can also help with providing constructive and appropriate feedback for your students. Another strategy to help practice a nonjudgmental attitude is to not only observe our feelings and emotions, but to understand them. Our judgments are often associated with fear or uncertainty. But if we try to mindfully understand our judgments, we can try and separate them from these negative connotations. This gives us the opportunity to understand what these judgments truly mean to ourselves. As a result, we can try to let go of our judgments and make space for practicing compassion to others, and ourselves. Releasing our judgments can provide more positive and instructive feedback to our students, which in turn supports their behavioral and emotional needs.
Feel free to participate in this short three minute Mindfulness activity led by Amanda McMahon, Ph.D. from Washington State University.