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October 17, 1999Dr. Cowan,
Please refer to my letter to you dated September 18, 1999 for background information.
The class continues to take microbreaks at about 7:50 a.m. We have not been doing it daily, but are at about three times per week. The results continue to be a general relaxation amongst the group, lasting until mid-morning (about two hours). The following are general observations covering about a dozen microbreaks, each starting at the beginning of the students’ 1st period class.
Each student has an opinion on the break – 5 positive, 2 negative. The two negative individuals are pupils who I would call “wanting attention”, and so they act out or talk out to complain. (Some students would complain if you gave them a bar of gold; they’d say, “This is too heavy!”) When these two students are corrected, “If you don’t want to do a microbreak, let others that do…” they do let others involve themselves in a quiet atmosphere. (These two individuals were observed doing microbreaks, though it wasn’t the quality of the other five.)
The other five were “into” the break. Each student had their own style: One laid on the floor, another on a desk, but everyone assumed the proper position of placing one hand over their heart and the other on their stomach. The remaining two non-compliant students did not trouble the participating students for a few minutes.
Generally, after the break, I announce, “Begin your work when you are ready.” The room stays quiet and students involve themselves in their individual assignments.
The microbreak has become the foundation for relaxed learning at each student’s own success level. Students are reminded when they become “frustrated” or “anxious” to do a microbreak. I ask them if they are in need of calming down, and they respond by closing their eyes and mouths for a short time. Their frustration subsides, and their work resumes.
In one case, a student was reading orally, but had a hyped air about him. I asked him to use the microbreak, which he did. He thus calmed himself down and read the passage with greater confidence, read longer, and answered questions on the material. His mother now reports that he comes home and wants to read, whereas he has never done this in the past.
Behavioral problems are very manageable this year, as compared to other years. Students know they can work at a personally controlled success level. They show pride when they review many days worth of completed assignments within their personal notebooks. The microbreak has become key to the discovery of their own self-control, productivity, and improved grades.
Most Very Truly,
Exceptional Child Education /Learning Behavioral Disorders Teacher
Jefferson County Public Schools
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