Baltimore elementary school replaces detention with meditation

The Robert W. Coleman elementary school in West Baltimore replaced detention with meditation. Any student who is disruptive in class gets sent to the Mindful Moment Room by their teachers. In the Room, they speak with staff members who encourage them to talk about what just happened. Then they sit down and practice breathing exercises.

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"I did some deep breathing, had a little snack, and I got myself together," a student recalled. "Then I apologized to my class."

"Some of our children are homeless. Some of them come to school from situations where they don't have lights at home, or food. They see crime occur in their neighborhoods," Principal Carlillian Thompson said. "So we're trying really hard here to make this a place where children feel safe and where their needs are met."

The students also start and end their days with a 15 minute guided meditation over the intercom. At nearby Patterson High School, they decided to implement a mindful Room after seeing the success they had at Coleman’s. High school students practice yoga and go to relax after a stressful day.

Associate professor Tamar has spent time working with and researching the Mindful Rooms around Baltimore. Here’s what she had to say:

“giving these kids the chance to breathe deeply, to focus their attention on themselves rather than what's going on externally, can be an effective way to combat the stress, improve attention and usher in calm, she adds. "When we sit with pain or discomfort rather than act on it, we learn that feelings and sensations come and go. We don't necessarily need to act on them all. We have a chance to pause and make a thoughtful choice about how to respond."

Jessica Catalina