Rock climber uses wellness techniques in teaching
At the start of every class, Garrett Cease leads a group of sixth graders in a 30-second meditative moment. Encouraging the class to take three deep breaths together, he asks his students to sit quietly for a moment and observe how they feel.
“Consider how other people might be feeling,” he adds.
Cease, a recent CU Boulder graduate, uses this time to center and orient the class before diving into the content for the day.
An enthusiast for meditation, yoga, rock climbing and skiing, Cease brought his passions and wellness techniques into his student teaching practicum classroom to guide his teaching and to connect with his students.
“When you’re rock climbing, it’s important to stay present and practice responding rather than reacting unconsciously,” he said. “In the classroom, I try to do the same thing.”
When Cease encounters an unexpected challenge in the classroom, he tries to navigate the situation by being aware of his own emotions, a technique he learned through climbing and meditation. While route finding, climbers often have moments when they are not sure they are going the correct and safest way. Instead of going forward and seeing what happens, Cease says that he stops, assesses the risks and works on mitigating them as much as he can.
“It’s important to admit when you don’t know something or when you’re uncomfortable and you need to take a different approach,” Cease said. “You have to mitigate risk depending on what you’re doing, and that’s the same thing in the classroom.”
Cease encourages others to “be open and honest with students about where you stand, what you think and what you might not be aware of.” By being vulnerable, he hopes students will be open to having a discussion together in a safe and respectful environment.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Cease wanted to explore a new place and fell in love with the mountains in Colorado.
Everything we do is shaped by our previous experiences, our culture, our identities and our history. I think the best we can do is to be open to seeing where our biases come up so that we can critically evaluate how we are interpreting ourselves and others."
After graduating from CU Boulder with a double major in English and philosophy, he returned to complete a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction plus teacher licensure in English education from the School of Education.
“One of the biggest takeaways from the (master’s) program was that education and social justice are inextricably linked,” Cease said. “Everything we do is shaped by our previous experiences, our culture, our identities and our history. I think the best we can do is to be open to seeing where our biases come up so that we can critically evaluate how we are interpreting ourselves and others.”
Cease’s passion for education stems from his love of art, literature and critical thinking, as well as a desire to make a positive difference in the world.
“I always hoped to find ways to help students use their reading and writing to make sense of their world and to leave it a little better than they found it,” he said.
Now that he has graduated, Cease is seeking a teaching position in Boulder or to travel and teach English abroad. Either way, he plans to continue connecting with his students through his interests.
“It’s important to find activities that can help us step away from our overactive minds and our turbulent emotions so that we can find some peace in the present moment,” he said. He underscores how this is crucial in a world where people digest a constant stream of information every day.
While for Cease finding peace means yoga, meditation, climbing and skiing, he hopes he can help students find an activity that works for each of them.