Monday, March 10, 2014

mindful monday: mindful schools

image courtesy of mindful schools

over the weekend i attended a three-day mindful schools training in maryland. the whole experience was beneficial on many levels and left me filled with excitement over this mindful revolution.  

our non-profit, tranquil space foundation, is transitioning from yoga/creativity/leadership curriculum to mindfulness/creativity/leadership curriculum and here's a short video about that shift.

moi, brie, siobhan, alli

i was joined on this weekend journey by two fellow tranquil space foundation team members (brie and alli) assisting with this programming shift, long-time tranquil space teacher siobhan, and long-time friend rachel (not pictured). we hope to sprinkle our learnings into the foundation's online curriculum we're launching this fall and into more tranquil space offerings (watch for a weekly mindfulness class gracing the schedule with its presence). 

the training had two tiers, kindergarten - 5th grades and adolescents. we had the opportunity to learn and practice pieces of both. in addition to the training curriculum, we received a mindfulness teacher manual chock-full of teaching tips such as greeting students, dealing with fidgeters and rowdy rooms, normalizing and using words they don't get such as "tap into" or "honor." 

mindful schools piloted 50 programs over 4 years using 16-18 15-minute modules to establish a baseline understanding of mindfulness. there are 3 pillars to this work: personal practice, mindful teaching, and teaching mindfulness. ah, it always comes back to our own practice, right? even at the end they reminded us that if you are a parent taking this training to help your child, the best way to help is to model the behavior. a beautiful (and tough) reminder.

savoring daylight savings' oh-so-early sunshine while awaiting pick up at the metro

the teachers reiterated jon kabat-zinn's definition of mindfulness: "mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally." and a student's definition: noticing what's happening right now.

we learned the history of mindfulness beginning in health care with jon kabat-zinn's work at umass medical school (1979), next in mental health (90s), and education (2000). two main benefits of mindfulness in education are attention and self-regulation.

the mindful teaching component explored the role of personal practice, mirror neurons (how the way the teacher acts is mimicked by the student), and reading the energy of the room.

a presentation of research on how mindfulness has had an effect on children, adolescents, and adult brains offered key insights into the power of the work. 

next was a discussion on brain science such as the prefrontal cortex (physical and emotional regulation), amygdala (emotional center), and hippocampus (memory) with resources to dan siegel

we concluded with tips on moving forward by offering and adapting the mindful schools curriculum to our varied settings. 

truly a transformative weekend filled with time for reflection, learning, and dreaming ways to carry the work further. and, as we know, it all begins within. bisous. x

{to explore mindfulness further, join the "mindfulness: tranquility within" e-course}


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