Alison Laycock, an accredited Mindfulness and Compassion teacher and Founder of ‘Being the Best You Can Be’ combines her 20+ years of teaching with her Mindfulness experience. Having taught languages across the Education sector abroad and in the UK, Alison is now working with school communities offering helpful and practical Mindfulness and Compassion tips and techniques for teachers, students and school staff. Please visit the website to find out more. Follow @alisonlaycock23 Website: www.beingthebestyoucanbe.org
Whether there is a Pride group, or a similar support group, for the LGBTQ+ community in your school or not, there will be a number of LGBTQ + students in all Primary and Secondary schools. There are also LGBTQ+ teachers, whether they are out to their colleagues and/or students or not.
There may be many who have spent lockdown in difficult situations without being able to access the much-needed support they would normally have in school or within their local community. It is therefore more important than ever that tools, resources and strategies are in place and offered to all students as this will ensure their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing at this time and during the following months.
The strategies mentioned below are intended to provide a whole school approach towards LGBTQ+ inclusion so that all teachers and students can support each other, especially as allies are also an important part of the LGBTQ+ experience.
Kindness: Acknowledging the kindnesses given and received will encourage more in our lives. This is important for LGBTQ+ students to accept that kindness exists around and towards them no matter who they are and even better for exactly who they are.
Knowing themselves and what they need: This is an extension of kindness where the individual can ensure they are protecting themselves through acceptance and understanding. This comes from self-awareness and knowing which people and situations are positive for them, which aren’t and how to access support and engage the strategies they need in those moments.
Resilience: This is key for everyone and building emotional resilience can be encouraged and supported throughout the whole school community with teachers modelling what this looks like and how they practice it. Notice the breath: Our breath always takes us to the present moment and this can be used on its own or with other practices. We are able to see ourselves in that breath and who we are, notice it, accept it and move to the next moment. If more is needed then it can lead into STOP. S = Stop: whatever you’re doing, just pause T = Take a breath and follow it coming in and going out. If it helps, say ‘in’ as you’re breathing in and ‘out’ as you let it go. O = Observe your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Name them if that will help and observe how the body feels. P = Proceed mindfully. Is there something you need to move into the next moment? Can a chat with a friend help? Do you need a drink of water? Will fresh air help? Develop and use self-soothing techniques: These can be external or internal ones which can help in the moment to create space at the same time as offering comfort and support to the individual. Maybe stroking the arm before going into a particular area of the school may help, giving oneself a hug at certain points of the day or simply speaking kindly and positively to yourself throughout the day. All of the above strategies of using Mindfulness and Compassion in general throughout schools, as well as specifically with LGBTQ+ students, bring many benefits to all involved. Here are a few:
Improved levels of self-esteem and self-worth
Kinder and more positive atmosphere around and within the school community
Improved performance levels through students being able to be their true selves
Better behaviour and more positive interactions
Reduced levels of bullying especially Homophobic, Bi-phobic and Trans-phobic (HBT)