New ‘Brain Breaks’ Revitalize Online Classes

Alysa Grillo, Writer

I believe it’s safe to say that virtual learning has caused students to stress out like never before. From the lack of social interaction to constant deadlines, it’s not surprising that a lot is factoring into students’ stress. But here at Curtis, faculty have come up with new ways to combat stress and burnout, with a few recent ones being Brain Breaks, mindfulness days, and meditation sessions. 

Brain Breaks are in-class activities that give students the opportunity to take a break from class and engage with their classmates. This allows students to take their minds off their school work for a bit and interact with other students, something that has become rare in the remote learning environment. Tom Hepworth, Community School Director, said that “It had become apparent that Curtis students were finding the Virtual Learning Environment to be a real challenge and, in many cases, disheartening, due to the lack of personal contact. As you know, the Wednesday schedule presents the especially daunting task of sitting in remote classes all day long. So, The Community School Team introduced the idea of Brain Breaks as a way to interrupt these bleak Wednesdays with some fun activities that not only reset the energy in virtual classrooms but also build the socio-emotional coping abilities of all participants.” Shortly after having them, students and teachers alike have been very thankful for these Brain Breaks. 

Ms. Damon, an English teacher, is just one fan of the activities. “I love Brain Breaks because they are a great opportunity for students to interact with each other in an engaging way that supports social and emotional development!” 

Since they don’t come around too often, teachers have also made their own forms of Brain Breaks to incorporate into their own lesson plans. Some teachers do mindful days, while others facilitate mini-meditation sessions at the start of the class period. With mindfulness days, teachers put a pause on their normal class activities to give the students a period where they can take a break and relax. Betzabeth Rodriguez, a junior, felt that it was a great addition to the school day. “I think it was very generous and smart to incorporate mindfulness during class because it’s important to take care of our mental health, and we needed that time to relax and be ready to continue with our day.”

Getting caught up in the stress of being a virtual learner is something that students have certainly become familiar with. This year, we’ve experienced so many things that can definitely be a lot for us to handle on our own, but by encouraging mindfulness in the classroom, those who feel overwhelmed by the changes of this year will hopefully have another way to destress and let off steam.