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Get Centered in 2018

The New Year has arrived with energy and gusto, bringing with it the potential for personal and professional growth. For students and teachers, however, January falls right in the middle of the school year and the transition back from winter break can be...a bit rough. To help stave off the mid-winter doldrums and enter the final months of the school year with positivity and focus, here are three ways students and teachers can get centered in 2018.

Be Present and Stay Mindful  

Stress, coupled with shorter days and colder weather, are key contributors to the mid-winter blues. It can be helpful for elementary students and educators to cultivate optimism and positive emotions by practicing mindfulness daily. Activities such as journaling and goal setting, meditation and mindful breathing, encourage young kids to return to the present and allow them to calm their bodies and minds.  College students also benefit from activities that emphasize the importance of reflection and contemplation, which can ultimately help them to set meaningful personal and academic goals for 2018 and beyond.

Be Playful and Get Creative

The Dot, a colorful kids’ book written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds, celebrates a young girl named Vashti who goes on a journey of self-discovery and unearths her inner artist. She, in turn, helps others to embody and embrace their best selves. From Kindergarten to graduate school, the value of originality and finding one’s authentic, unique voice is priceless. Teachers can encourage creativity and teach original thinking in many ways, not just in January, but throughout the school year.

Be a Listener and a Learner

The most meaningful learning opportunities begin when individuals stop to take a moment to listen. Adora Svitak, in her TedEd talk on creativity and optimism, says the world needs to hear more "childish" ideas: bold concepts, wild notions, and endless hope. She challenges adults to listen to the kids in their lives and to learn from their youthful perspective. Educators should seize opportunities to listen and learn in the classroom, as well as outside of school at a variety of conferences and professional development events in 2018.

Whether it is embracing creativity in the classroom, infusing lessons with mindfulness, or slowing down to listen and learn something new, these practices promote getting centered as we start the New Year.

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