Tara Brach is founder and guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. Along with Jack Kornfield, Tara leads the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program and is the author of several international bestselling books including Radical Acceptance, True Refuge, and Radical Compassion. A longtime friend of iBme and guest faculty of the iBme Mindfulness Teacher Training, Tara shared with us some of wisdom from her newest book, Trusting the Gold, to support teachers in creating classroom environments that favor bringing out the good.
Bringing Out the Good in Our Students
“When we pause and remain present with anyone and anything . . .
we allow our hearts to open and be touched by life.
With loving attention, the living energy all around us
becomes an intimate part of who we are.”
Notice how you feel when you read this line: “I love you. Awesome job. You’re doing fantastic.” Feels good, right? We want to feel that and we want to covey it to the young people we teach and guide. And yet, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of focusing on what’s “bad” or “wrong”—with ourselves and our students. How do we instead tap into our goodness and bring out the goodness in our students?
For Yourself: Practices to See the Gold in Your Students
- Mirror the Good. With each student, ask yourself: What are the ways the gold shines through this unique human being? How might I be a mirror of goodness, and let them know?
- See the Unmet Need. With any student having difficulty, ask yourself: What is the hurt or fear behind this? What is the unmet need (love, understanding, being seen, safety)? How might I in some way respond to this child’s unmet need?
- Pause to Appreciate. In moments when there’s flow, gratitude, inspiration, fun, beauty, creativity happening in the classroom, inwardly pause. Take a moment to honor the basic goodness—the light and love—that shines through yourself and others.
- Encourage Yourself. When you get emotionally reactive while teaching (agitated, angry, anxious, confused, or caught in self-judgment), take a moment to pause, breathe and come into your body. Offer yourself caring messages such as “It’s okay, trust your goodness, trust the gold, you’re doing your best.”
For Your Students to Try
- Build a Class Culture of Encouragement. After working on creative projects, have students tell each other what they liked about the other’s work. You can also encourage them to reflect on what they liked about their own work.
- Share Exercises in Empathy. Share stories about kids in difficulty, and then ask your students what that person might have been feeling. Get them to think about what they might have done to help if they had been there. Of course, this is collaborative, not something focused on getting a “right” answer.
- Imagine Other People’s Shoes. Share stories about people acting in unpleasant and/or hurtful ways—ignoring others, criticizing, bullying, bragging, arguing. With each stories, challenge students to invent 3-4 possible reasons that the person might be behaving as they are. Again, this is a collaborative exploration, not focused on “right” answers.
Interested in gaining confidence and experience as a mindfulness teacher working with youth? Consider the iBme Mindfulness Teacher Training, a 2-year certification program that begins every other year.
Want to read more from Tara? Check out her new book, Trusting the Gold, for more reflections and practices.