Video: “Weightless” by Marconi Union, the most relaxing song in the world
Anyone who follows me on Spotify may have noticed that every Thursday from 12:20 to 1:10 my account plays nothing but soothing music. That’s because I’m hosting Long Lunch Relaxation for the 8th graders, who have a longer lunch period on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In my classroom, the lights are off and sunlight streams through the window. Quiet music plays through speakers via my iPhone. Outside, a sign says “Come on in! No Screens. No Homework. Be Quiet. Relax!” Students are everywhere - on the floor, at desks, sitting in murmuring clusters. They’re reading novels, writing in journals, meditating, coloring mandalas, or just sitting quietly.
Why would I, a teacher at one of the most academically rigorous schools in the country, hang a sign in my classroom declaring it a NO HOMEWORK ZONE? And why is it so easy to get over thirty 8th graders, both boys and girls, to give up their lunch period to sit in silence for almost an hour in self-directed relaxation time?
Because there’s a need for it. Because it’s rough to be an 8th grader, and stress levels run high when you combine large workloads with the struggles of adolescence. Because the entire campus is a HOMEWORK ZONE. Because my students are amazing, and they’ll rise to any challenge, even when that challenge is to sacrifice some of their homework and socializing time for self-care and centering.
Here’s how I did it:
- I offered snacks and treats the first day I did it. Come for the cookies, stay for the calm. I’ll have snacks every few weeks throughout the year.
- I model the behavior. I said No Screens, and that means my work laptop is shut. I said No Homework, and that meant I’m not grading. I journal or read at my desk while supervising.
- I play music. Dead silence is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone, and music helps provide a buffer. It also allows for some soft whispering if necessary.
- I keep the time unstructured, with options. Students can choose between some guided meditation packets, journaling prompts, or fractal/mandala coloring pages, or they can do their own thing. (The coloring pages are by far the most popular.) Kids are free to come in or out at any time during the lunch period.
It’s been a great success so far, and I’m hoping to expand my available materials by next week. Any other teachers out there who do mindfulness, yoga, or other self-care work with their students? Let me know what works for you.