Don’t be “Clueless” about mindfulness. Yes, you read that right; I did reference the pop culture movie “Clueless,” which some of you might remember viewing. However, pop culture can teach valuable lessons about our society and academics.

Many times, we don’t really see the world we live in until it is displayed to us either through a movie, picture or until we have that light bulb moment. It is looking at an older picture of yourself and asking, “Did I dress like that?”

Our lives have gotten complicated, especially during the years of Covid. With our busy professional lives, either teaching, attending another committee meeting or flying off to a conference, reflection about our current situation can be pushed to the back burner. Self-care and being in the moment can often be overlooked or not even realized. Therefore, I would like to offer you some tips and advice that we can all use to be more mindful in our academic work and even in our online courses, regardless of your selected learning management system.

This article is part of a biweekly series provided by the Instructional Technology Council, an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Be in the moment

  • Take a couple of minutes each day to reflect on one item you struggled to complete. Ask yourself, what obstacles stood in the way?
  • When walking around campus, takes a few minutes to talk to students. We may be rushing to a campus event without noticing our students.
  • Think of yourself! Taking time to be kind to yourself is important. Don’t skip lunch!
  • If you feel overwhelmed looking at your calendar of events, return to your current state of being by focusing on your breathing and surroundings.
  • Schedule a daily session to think quietly in your office or office setting.
  • Be a better YOU than you were yesterday.

Life in academics (online learning)

The first week of any given semester can be challenging. With a new schedule and cohorts of students getting ready for that first-day activity or classroom session is always on the list of things to accomplish.

Instead of the “traditional” ice-breaker activity of asking students to introduce themselves, think of creating a mindfulness activity instead. Such mindfulness activities can include asking the students the simple “why” they are taking this course or evening telling them to jot down what they want to learn during the course. These activities, especially in an online environment, can help further contribute to students’ sense of community.

During the term, you know what I am speaking about, the middle of that term, where we are in Week 6 of a 12-week class, take some time to reflect on classroom activities by journaling like the pop culture show “Ghostwriter” but in a different context. Journal about what is going well and things to improve as we critically reflect on our practice as educators. Self-reflection is essential, and one of the best ways to help self-examine our self-reflection is keeping a journal. So, jazz up your journal with your favorite stickers or maybe even your favorite font in Microsoft Word!

Next time you feel overwhelmed with your teaching load or general campus life, don’t be “Clueless” about mindfulness; take some time for self-care and reflection.

About the Author

Derk Riechers
Derk Riechers oversees online programming and modalities at Northeastern Technical College in South Carolina. He is a board member of the Instructional Technology Council, an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges.
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