How To Change A Student To Another Teacher Relex Math Sink and Think: Fostering Curiosity and Managing ADHD in the Classroom

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Sink and Think: Fostering Curiosity and Managing ADHD in the Classroom

I have been meditating for twenty-five years. It’s a daily ritual as important to me as sleeping and eating the right food. A metaphor to describe meditation is to imagine that you are watching your thoughts as if they were clouds drifting across the sky. These thoughts can be disturbing or pleasant. When you let something that bothers you be like a cloud in the sky, neither good nor bad, you allow yourself to release the intense emotions surrounding these issues. In the process, you become more open to being creative, alert, sensitive and flexible. When you practice meditation, you allow yourself to have many new experiences because you are overcoming things that normally bother you. Meditation is a challenging practice, but it is worth developing for this reason and many others.

A few months ago an idea came to me while meditating. I teach math at a local high school in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, USA. If you’ve recently visited a high school yourself, you know the chaos that ensues when one period ends and the next is about to begin. All students simultaneously erupt into an energetic cacophony as they move on to their next class. At the beginning of each of my math classes, the students enter the classroom, loud, boisterous, and oblivious to me and the classroom environment.

In my meditation, I saw a vision of my students sitting in silence for five minutes at the beginning of my lessons. Could this really work?

The next day I tried it with my ninth, tenth and twelfth graders. I asked my students to go into the room, take out their books, and sit there quietly. I insisted that it was time to do nothing. There was no hope in them. They had this time to arrive and relax. I emphasized that they could not interfere with any other students in the process. Everyone was entitled to this “down time”, to tune into their needs and feelings to refresh themselves before starting a new lesson with a new teacher and classmates.

After some experimentation, it soon became apparent that five minutes was too long for some students, especially those with ADHD. Many of these students found silence and stillness uncomfortable. I knew from my own meditation experience that the effort to be still and quiet is an effort worth making for the benefits it brings. Even short periods of stopping and being quiet are powerful pivot points for changing the dynamics of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are the main causes to prevent creativity and curiosity in the classroom!

I call this student meditation time “Dive and Think™.” I changed it to a minute. Sometimes in a very natural way it extends beyond a minute. Since introducing Sink and Think™ two months ago, my students now look forward to and appreciate this quiet time. Surprisingly, the chatter, banter and wandering eyes have been replaced by a class of still, silent and curious students. In 30 seconds there is a pin drop silence. We can hear other classes in the distance, the ticking of the clock on the wall, and the thoughts bouncing around inside our own heads. The students either have their eyes closed, their gazes soft, or they just stare at me, anticipating what’s coming next.

Since introducing Sink and Think™, I have noticed dramatic changes in the way students respond in the classroom. It has also changed my teaching style in ways I never imagined. The students themselves describe the experience in an amazing way. They say: “chaos sets in”; “I feel calm when I enter the room”; “I don’t get overwhelmed when I start working”; “I’m curious what the lesson will be”; “I took 3 seconds off my personal best by meditating before the swim meet”…and the list goes on. This has become a modality that I am now implementing as part of my approach to teaching CORE Strength™ for Students.

Sink and Think™, has been a transformative classroom experience. It has impacted both me and my students, revealing the intrinsic value that silence brings. Respect, care, curiosity, creativity, self-confidence and self-management are just a few. Perhaps the most remarkable thing I have observed is that students with ADHD are much calmer and more attentive throughout the period. Students’ natural curiosity is born, as they connect with their own inner desire to listen and discover.

Please send it to a friend, teacher or student you know.

be strong

Lawrence Carroll

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