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The Way of the Mindful Education #mindfuleducation

This was one of the books staff from my school could read last summer for professional development.  I had found the other two books first so I read those, but I finally got around to this one.  I really believe that most of the world is not living mindful or conscious so for me this is an interesting read.  The author is Daniel Rechtschaffen. There are three parts to this book bolded below.

Why Mindful Education Matters.  “When we don’t listen to our students, we are in a perpetual battle against them” (p14) Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been around since the late 1960’s.  We need to make sure that students have self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.  Before you can do that you do need training and self-care for teachers, direct service to students and curriculum-based teaching.

The proven benefits of mindfulness research has been:

  1. Body – reducing pain and high blood pressure and improving symptoms of physical conditions such as psoriasis. Correlated to slowing the rate of cellular aging.
  2. Mind – improving sustained attention, visuaospatial memory, working memory and concentration, decrease in stress and anxiety
  3. Heart – promote ability to feel in control, make meaningful relationships, accept experience without denying the facts, manage difficult feelings and be calm, resilient, compassionate, and emphatic. proving effective in addressing substance abuse, stress, anxiety and recurrent depression and improving sleep.
  4. Interconnectedness – enhance empathy, auditory focus and make music more enjoyable.

Begin with Yourself. Find your own mindfulness practice. Start each school day thinking about sending empathy and kindness to co-workers and students.

  1. Remember to care for the caregiver.  It is the similar idea of put your oxygen mask on first before securing a child’s because if you can’t breathe you won’t be much help to others.
  2. Find 15 minutes a day to devote to mindfulness.
  3. “Mindfulness helps us cultivate the balance, patience, and attention we need to wad through the muck of mind chaos.” (p58)
  4. Remind yourself these things:  “May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful.” (p64)
  5. “No one has every existed without the sun, without water, without the trees that exhale the oxygen we breath.” (66) Think about the interconnectedness.
  6. Try not to judge or project. Keep the dram to a minimum.
  7. Learn to listen deeply and consciously to others.

Cultivating a Mindful Classroom

Qualities of a Mindful Teacher

  1. Compassion – students won’t listen to you if you are cold or uncaring.
  2. Understanding – open your eyes to your assumptions and create a good relationship.
  3. Boundaries – “boundaries offer space in which students can feel secure enough to learn, be creative and thrive.
  4. Attention – paying attention
  5. Intention – don’t just expect, make an intention
  6. Authenticity – ” When teachers are able to admit their own humanity, the students enter a room in which it is safe to be themselves.” (p.94)

Essential Ingredients of a Mindful Classroom

  • Mindful mornings – great students at the door
  • Schedule Mindful Moments (preferable throughout the day)
  • Create a Peace corner
  • Use mindfulness language such as heartfulness
  • Make Agreements with Students
  • Mindfulness is Always Optional
  • Council Practice using deep listening.

The Layout of a Mindfulness Lesson

  • Opening Mindful Moment
  • Check-in and Report Back
  • New Lesson Introduction
  • Practice
  • Sharing/Council
  • Journaling
  • World Discovery
  • Closing Mindful Movement

The author lists many curriculum ideas such as Language of the Body, Playing Mindfulness, Mindful Movement, Mindful Eating, Mindful Listening, Mindful Seeing, Stream of Thoughts, Heartful Phrases, Roots of Emotions, Destructive Emotions, Generating Gratitude, Mindful Communication, Natural Word Lesson, Practicing Distraction, Mindful Engagement, Personal Practice and Integration Exercises.

This is a must read for educators.


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