As students are transitioning to in-person classrooms, it can be beneficial to think of in-person community-building practices set in place for them to build fulfilling relationships with their peers. It can also help students who are transitioning and acclimating to in-person settings.
Here are ideas on how educators can build community and mindfulness among students:
Incorporating meditation in the classroom. Meditation helps boost the immune system, increases positive emotions while reducing stress and anxiety, improves focus and attentiveness, and encourages kindness and compassion. In a classroom setting, students can benefit from this practice improving their mental health while also cultivating a community of compassion and respect. Meditation can be as short as five minutes and can be done with breathing exercises.
Including restorative justice in group settings. Restorative justice is a process where students resolve conflicts through small peer-mediated groups that focus on resolving grievances rather than using punitive measures, such as suspension and expulsion. Students have reported feeling happier and safer when schools implement restorative justice circles. This is a community-building practice that encourages respect and healthy conflict resolution skills.
Grow a community garden. Community gardens are a place where people can grow fresh, healthy food. While this is good for fresh food access, biodiversity, plant education, and improving dietary habits as well as soil and air quality, it is also good for the well-being of the community These gardens bring people together, which can empower people, encourage teamwork, and help them feel safer.