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It only takes 10 minutes, one Pueblo Principals' idea is helping students stay focused in the classroom

Posted at 7:03 PM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 21:03:08-05

PUEBLO, Colo. — A new program at a Pueblo middle school is helping students stay focused in the classroom while addressing behavioral issues. Educators at Heaton Middle School came up with a creative solution to get students focused.

The Principal of Heaton Middle School, Jayme Cardinal, said when students returned to school after the pandemic shutdown, they struggled with anxiety and focusing in the classroom.

They also saw an uptick in behavioral issues, which is why Principal Cardinal created the “Pause For Hawks” program.

Heaton Middle School in Pueblo is the home of the Hawks and everyday after lunch, students pause for ten minutes.

“Welcome to Heaton's Paws for Hawks,” Principal Cardinal said.

Principal Jayme Cardinal ,with the help of a school social worker, broadcasts the Pause For Hawks segment live to each classroom.

“Going to get started with breathing so if everyone could join us with that for today,” Principal Cardinal said.

It begins with a few deep breaths, then a grounding technique. Principal Cardinal said a simple mindfulness exercise helps students focus.

“With kids they really don't get a break, they're going to class, going to passing periods and having social time so they don't get to take a moment to have for themselves,” Principal Cardinal said.

That's why she implemented a pause period where students can color, do puzzles, connect the dots and even practice meditation.

“They wanted thunder, lightning and rain as the sounds to be played, not music,” Principal Cardinal said.

Light sounds of a thunderstorm in the distance are played throughout the classrooms while students color.

Principal Cardinal said before this program began, students often seemed anxious, aggressive and overly energetic.

“We did see decrease in the number of behaviors that we were saying after lunch, and the goal wasn't to completely eliminate all behaviors because we recognize kids are going to have different needs throughout the course of the day, but we wanted to see if we can find a way to help them just have a moment to themselves,” Principal Cardinal said.

Maaliyah Arnold is a seventh grader at Heaton Middle School. She said Pause for Hawks is helping her and her classmates manage stress and calm their emotions.

“People have less drama, they learn how to control themselves, calm themselves down and take deep breaths,” Arnold said.

She enjoys the breathing exercises.

“If I am having a tough day at school it helps me with the hard day,” Arnold said.

Arnold said Principal Cardinal gives them options of different coloring books, dot to dot and sketch pads to choose from. She thinks it would be a cool idea if sixth, seventh, and the eighth grade classes could mix during the Pause of Hawks period. Arnold said this would be a great way for students to get to know other kids in different grades.

Principal Cardinal recently started including puzzles and other fun materials in a kart that is passed from classroom to classroom. She is brainstorming and coming up with many new ideas to contribute to the 10 minutes of mindfulness.

She said a few deep breaths and brightly colored pencils are creating a positive culture in her middle school.

“Okay Hawks, as your leave class remember lest be mindful, let's be kind and stay gold because that helps us be Heaton Hawks,” Principal Cardinal said.

Principal Cardinal said the long-term goal is to provide students with skills so they can be mindful beyond middle school.

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