"The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score." — Unknown
Goals are important. But too often we get caught up in being "SMART" and creating goals designed to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. We often forget about the single, most important factor: setting a purpose. We focus all of our attention on the who, what, where, when, and how, and lose sight of the why.
Simon Sinek has made a career out of pushing people to "Start With Why," but what he is really talking about is focusing on the fundamental and self-evident concept of purpose.
Every thought and every action has a purpose. And humans need purpose. Focusing on asking the right questions helps lead us to finding purpose in what we do any why we do it.
Frequently, I hear teachers wrestling over questions like, "What chapter are you on?", "Where are you in this unit?", "How long did it take to get through this chapter?", and "What do I do with this student?"
Students, on the other hand, tend to be laser-focused on finding purpose in nearly everything, asking questions like, "Why do I need to learn this?", "How does this benefit me?", and "Why are we doing this?"
In this regard, we could learn a lot from our students.
I know it's a bit late for "Free Resource Friday," but a simple tool I use to help ensure I focus on finding purpose is called Momentum. Momentum is a free Chrome extension, which hijacks (in a good way) my homepage and presents me with a beautiful landscape, a simple clock, and a prompt asking, "What is your main focus for today?" Whatever I type into the prompt becomes my checklist and disappears when I complete it.
Teachers (or students) can use this to set a focus for each day or each class and help develop their purpose.
Let me know your thoughts and if you find Momentum helpful in improving your focus and setting a purpose, in your classroom or life.
This week, as we return to work and continue to evaluate our New Year's Resolutions, I wanted to share with you an app I consider to be essential to my daily life. This app is called Calm.
The Calm app is one I use on a daily basis—often, multiple times a day—for guided meditation and mindfulness exercises. The science is undeniable, meditation teaches us to calm and sharpen the mind, improve focus and concentration, while increasing our overall awareness.
With regular meditation, we can reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure levels, while increasing in our immunity levels and improving our ability to heal. It can also be effective in coping with ADD/ADHD, PTSD, chronic pain, sleep problems, insomnia, and many, many other conditions.
As a novice meditator, I found the intro sessions to be particularly helpful. These sessions are structured in 7- and 21-day options, permitting one to develop his or her practice over time. Once you get comfortable with meditation, you can begin to include the Daily Calm, as a part of your daily practice. And depending on how you are feeling, on a particular day or in a particular moment, you can choose from a collection of meditations designed for anxiety, sleep, focus, stress, relationships, and an array of other categories.
Calm's primary meditation instructor, author and producer Tamara Levitt, is extraordinary. Her guidance is calming, reassuring, non-intrusive, and otherwise difficult for me to put into words, but unlike any other guided meditation I have experienced before. Please enjoy this example of a Daily Calm session:
In addition to the meditations, Calm offers Sleep Stories, designed to lull even the busiest mind into sleep, and music tracks, to improve focus, bring relaxation, or bring the outside in.
For the classroom, there is also a section labeled "Kids." This section includes meditations designed to help students of all grade levels balance emotions, while building confidence, focus, and calm. Over the years, Calm has committed to adding content into this area, as they aim to improve the lives of students everywhere.
While much of the app is free, in order to access the full program, Calm offers a $12.99 a month, $59.99 yearly, or $299.99 lifetime access charge. Fortunately for us, Calm has introduced the "Calm Classroom Initiative", providing educators with lifetime access for free (a $299.99 value). Simply complete this form and begin enjoying the calm.
Please reach out if you have any questions about the Calm app and/or how to integrate mindfulness into your classroom. Have a great weekend!
Calm is available on the following platforms:
New York Times — The Mindful Child
KQED News — What Changes When a School Embraces Mindfulness?
Washington Post — Harvard Neuroscientist on the physical effects Mindfulness
Harvard Business Review — Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain
The Atlantic — Should Schools Teach Kids to Meditate?
Wellcome Trust — 7-year study about mindfulness in UK schools
Mindful Nation UK — Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group
“Room to Breathe” — documentary on mindfulness in schools by Russell Long
San Francisco Chronicle — Meditation Transforms Roughest San Francisco Schools