Mindfulness in Schools and Higher Education

Cultivating Focus, Resilience and Compassion in K-12 Schools

All children deserve the opportunity to experience the power of mindfulness and understand directly how mindfulness can support them in their learning, personal growth and life. Schools are the primary vehicles through which this essential training can be offered.  

Students Who Practice Mindfulness

Students who practice mindfulness experience increases in optimism, emotional control, empathy, perspective taking, prosocial goals, and mindful attention. Mindfulness complements and strengthens social and emotional learning practices, skills and outcomes and is an essential component in dealing with the daily physical and emotional stress inherent in teaching and being a student. One in five children now have a diagnosable emotional, behavioral or mental health disorder . Mindfulness can play a key role in addressing risk factors in children that lead to depression, anxiety, stress, lack of empathy, insufficient sleep, bullying and difficulty with concentration.

 “Since I’ve been doing mindfulness, my mother and grandmother tell me that I am happier, less stressed and easier to be with.”

– a ninth grade girl

Teachers Who Practice Mindfulness

We believe that the most effective and sustainable way of teaching students mindfulness is by training their teachers, counselors and school leadership in the practice. Teachers who practice mindfulness bring a more calm and engaged presence to their students and we train them to fully integrate mindfulness into the daily life of the classroom and embed it in school culture. Classrooms of teachers who train in mindfulness are rated as more emotionally supportive and productive compared to those who don’t. Interactions are more emotionally positive and the teachers demonstrate greater sensitivity to their students’ needs. Teachers make better use of instructional time, resulting in students being more involved in learning activities. 

“Before this course, I was extremely stressed and it was affecting both my professional and personal life…I feel that I am calmer and more aware. Because of this I have a heightened ability to interact more fully with my students and family.”

– a teacher

Mindfulness Program Offerings

We offer a full range of programs from introductory professional development workshops to a Whole School Transformative Mindfulness Initiative for those schools committed to establishing mindfulness as a foundation for students’ education and the well-being of faculty and staff. Our Mindfulness in Schools programs are designed and customized to address the specific needs of each academic community, including students, teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals and school leadership. 

Introductory Mindfulness Workshop

In this introductory workshop, educators learn what mindfulness is and how it can begin to transform their classroom environment. Teachers and staff will learn some of the latest brain science, and some short mindfulness practices and tools to get started in the classroom. Just adding a little mindfulness to the day can create a more positive learning environment, stronger connections and communication with students, and reduced stress. We’ll begin with some mindfulness practices just for teachers and then move into simple ways of sharing mindfulness with your students that can be easily integrated into what you are already doing. This workshop can be tailored in length from an hour to a full day to meet your groups needs.

Whole School Transformative Mindfulness Initiative

We work closely with schools and school districts to design an integrative approach that develops out of community buy-in through a collaborative program design process. The final program could include some or all of the elements listed below. Frequently, additional elements are designed to meet the specific needs of a school.

MBSR for K-12 Educators

The 37-hour Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for K-12 Educators course is a unique professional development opportunity to immerse yourself in mindfulness on both an experiential level first, and then on the more practical level of how to bring mindfulness to your students.

Educators are increasingly turning to mindfulness as a powerful way to manage the complex demands of working in a school environment. With the internationally acclaimed and  MBSR curriculum as the cornerstone of the course, you will have an opportunity to:

  • Develop and immerse yourself in personal mindfulness practice, an essential foundation for being able to model and share mindfulness with students.
  • Enhance resilience, focus and well-being and access innate capacities for coping and navigating the inherent stress and challenges of life.
  • Embody mindfulness in all aspects of teaching and bring a more vital, engaged and calm presence to students.
  • Develop practical tools and strategies to share mindfulness with students and integrate it into the classroom. 

Mindfulness at School

This course is a 12 hour course designed to teach educators a wide range of mindfulness skills aimed at enhancing:

  • Focus, complex thinking and decision-making
  • Communication
  • Calmness, stability and resilience
  • The regulation of emotions and thoughts that arise in connection with conflict and challenge
  • The ability to more skillfully respond to the inherent stressors and complexities of life and work.

Through experiential exercises, dialogue and daily practice, participants will systematically explore the application and integration of mindfulness practice into their lives and will optimize their ability to step out of conditioned reactivity and access innate capacities to respond with more ease and effectiveness. With a foundation of personal practice, educators are then given tools and strategies for sharing mindfulness with students.

Mindfulness for Educators Summer Intensive Course

When it’s not possible to take the MBSR for Educators Course due to time constraints, the Summer Intensive is a good alternative for getting started in bringing mindfulness to the classroom. The course consists of 8 hours of online pre-course material which aims at introducing teachers to mindfulness practice before gathering for 4 days of in person class time. The first three days delve into the heart of sharing mindfulness with students through didactic teaching, interactive activities, journaling, and continued opportunities to develop personal practice. The fourth day provides support as educators create plans for incorporating mindfulness into their work. 

Mindfulness Retreats

These restorative retreats provide educators with much needed time to nourish and replenish themselves in a way that allows them to be more fully present and engaged with their students and also to avoid burnout. The retreats are customized to meet the needs in the group and may focus on teacher well-being and/or content of interest to the educators such as trauma-sensitive mindfulness, resilience training and developments in research and practice.  

Mindfulness Facilitator Training

One key element in integrating mindfulness fully into a school and creating a sustainable program is providing advanced training to teachers interested in becoming mindfulness facilitators. Mindfulness Facilitators are trained to strengthen the community of mindfulness practice and ensure that there are ample opportunities for students and teachers to regularly engage in mindfulness practice. Teachers who complete the MBSR for K-12 Educators course opt in to receive 8 additional hours of training to prepare them to become a mindfulness leader within the school. They might choose to organize and conduct guided mindfulness practice sessions for the school community at various times and in various formats, including before and after school, during morning announcements, as part of an assembly or even convening a mindfulness club.

Parenting Through the Lens of Mindfulness

This Mindfulness for Parents Workshop can be an important component in bringing mindfulness to your school because it gives parents a chance to reinforce what you are doing at home. In this workshop parents will learn how mindfulness can strengthen their relationship with their child and help them parent more effectively. Parents will learn what mindfulness is, some of the latest brain science and some short mindfulness practices and tools to use at home. Simply adding a little mindfulness to a parent’s day can create a more loving and joyful home, stronger connections and communication with their child and reduced stress.

 

Mindfulness in Higher Education

Our commitment to mindfulness in higher education begins in our own university and extends outward to students, faculty, staff and leadership at colleges, universities and other graduate programs. Working in partnership with each institution, we design and deliver  mindfulness training that is a foundation for academic and institutional excellence and, in many cases, also part of an academic concentration. Some of the programs we offer include:

Mindfulness-Based College 

The Mindfulness-Based College Course provides students with an opportunity to learn and apply mindfulness skills to improve diet, physical activity, sleep, stress recovery, cognitive performance and social relationships. Randomized and controlled clinical research on this unique program show significant decreases in loneliness and depression.

 For Credit Courses and Classes 

We offer for credit courses and classes that are customized to support academic concentrations in psychology, neuroscience, business, humanities, law, and healthcare. Our current offerings include:

Meditation and the Brain

This course explores the psychological and neuroscientific research on meditation and critically evaluates the findings of scientific and clinical studies in terms of their methodological rigor, implicit assumptions, and biases.  

Meditation Mindfulness and Health

This course provides an overview on the mechanism by which mindfulness may influence health outcomes and disease risk factors such as diet, obesity, physical activity, sleep, depression, and anxiety. 

Workplace Training 

Mindfulness in higher education begins with faculty, staff, leadership and teams. We offer a variety of programs focused on cultivating mindful leadership, optimal performance, communication, sustainability, health and well-being. We also offer regular mindfulness practice sessions.

1 Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl. MindUp: Emerging Research in Promoting Children’s Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Competence and Well-Being through a Mindfulness-Based Educational Program 

2 Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., et al. (2005). Life-time prevalence and age-of-onset distribution of DSM-IV disorders in the national co-morbidity survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry 62, 593-602.

3. https://news.virginia.edu/content/curry-study-reducing-teachers-stress-leads-higher-quality-classrooms

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