sandy utah — As teachers and students find ways to balance technology use in their classrooms, one of Sandy’s schools goes back to basics with Mindfulness Mondays, kicking off a week off.
“Our school community committee wanted to find a way not to limit the use of technology, but to focus on using it appropriately,” said Indian Hills Middle School Principal Doug Graham. “So we came up with this idea — let’s have a weekly Figure out a day, take a break, take a break.”
Graham said Mindful Monday is a response to the challenges students face in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic, when online learning has become a daily necessity. Now, every Monday, Indian Hills students put their phones and chrome books away, and teachers look for opportunities to reduce technology use in the classroom.
For some, it’s returning to the basics of using pencil and paper, workbooks, and conducting group discussions.
“We really need to start taking a step back and building more blended learning models again,” Graham said.
In Katie Buffington’s 7th grade language arts class, “Mindful Mondays” began correcting sentences the “old-school” way—pencil on paper instead of Microsoft Word.
“I’m part of the iPad generation. I can’t imagine what this generation is; they’re the ultimate in iPad,” Buffington said. “So it’s just part of their day-to-day life — they’re not really exposed or used to not having those instant technological responses.”
Taking a break from technology is a struggle for some students, Buffington said, making Mindful Monday even more important to their educational development.
“Our brains remember what we write better than what we type or read,” Buffington said. “So I try to get them to read, listen, and write as much as possible on Monday, and then we apply those techniques later in the week, or both, or whatever works best.”
Students in Buffington’s class say they miss using Chrome Books but love “Mindful Mondays.”
“I kind of like ‘Mindful Monday’ because it helps me learn more,” said Darian Gutierrez, a 7th grader at Indian Hill Middle School. “But I also enjoy using my computer because it helps me catch up more than writing.”
“Last year, all we did was computer, canvas, canvas, canvas, and now, we’re actually back on paper, back to being able to write and make our handwriting better,” seventh-grader Madeleine Salter said. “I think it helps our brains develop more.”
Thanks to Mindful Mondays, students at Indian Hill Middle School are more engaged at lunchtime, Thaut said.
“On ‘Mindfulness Monday,’ you can sit down, have lunch, and actually talk to them — say, ‘Hey, how was your weekend? What did you do?’ Instead of texting them, ‘ Thaut said.
Graham said he also noticed more interaction with students in the lunchroom on Monday, another goal of Mindfulness Monday.
“We just want the kids to be able to interact like they’re in the restaurant. One day a week, it’s nice to go there and see the face-to-face interactions and the kids hang out. And, you know, in 20 minutes, it’s probably not that much Dramatic effect, but it just helps them understand, hey, this is important, the amount of time you need to pay attention to your phone,” he said.
Mindfulness Monday has no set rules for teachers, just the hope that they will reduce the use of technology in their classrooms and set a good example for their students.
“At the end of the day, you want students to have the best experience possible, and sometimes, it’s the technology in their hands, and sometimes it’s not,” Graham said. “And we really have to get back to that balance.”
For Buffington, Mindful Monday was an important reminder that there are many ways to educate, and technology is just one of them.
“I think the world we live in right now is balance,” Buffington said. “We only have screens in front of us for two years in a row for education and stuff like that, so it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be an uphill battle, but I think in the end, having that balance is rewarding educationally and personally. “