Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.
It has been a while since I have written a blog post so I hope you can forgive me! Although I have not been writing on this public facing platform, in my personal life, the words have just been flowing! As a result, I wanted to share some of my lessons learned that may be helpful to you as counselors and coordinators kick off a new school year.
Earlier in January, I made a commitment to myself to begin journaling or scribing everyday as a way to practice mindfulness and reflection in my daily life. The busyness of the school year can be so consuming. It never feels like there is enough time in the day and the mind can be racing in many directions, making it nearly impossible to devote meaningful time to produce quality work.
After 9 months and counting, I have to this day journaled gratitude, experiences and lessons learned almost every day, filling up 5 notebooks so far. As a result of this intentional mindfulness, I felt as though I have been more productive in my professional work as well. With this concept being a fundamental component of the IB program, I found it appropriate to apply it not only within the academia, but every other part of life. If it works to help create well-rounded students, perhaps it can create an overflow effect. Before you can be productive in serving, counseling and supporting your students, you must be at a place of contentment first.
Here are 3 strategies that I have found helpful to bringing mindfulness outside of the classroom and into your life:
1. Start small: When I first began my mindfulness journey, the words did not always come! Some days it would be a sentence, other days it would be pages. Whether it be writing about the jubilant feelings you have after grading 40 TOK free-response questions, or the sigh of relief from not being stopped 10 times by frantic IB students on the walk to your office. Any and everything is fair game to write down. So go for it.
2. Acknowledge discouragement: It is inevitable that the busy thoughts will come in the middle of your writing, making it hard to stay focused. But what I have found is that when you acknowledge the thoughts as real, you can then redirect your energy back to the topic.
3. Reflect: Now, you would not be an IB learner if there was not some element of reflection during this process. For this purpose, re-reading your writing, preferably out loud has proven very useful. The same tools that we encourage students to do (i.e. re-reading for understanding/clarity) should also be applied to us as educators. Intentional reading to gain a new insight or reinforce something is a little habit that not only makes what we are writing resonate more, but then you start to believe it!
I hope this was helpful and prepares your mind to have a successful school year. Beginning with taking some time to focus on yourself first!