Mindfulness in Education







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Mindfulness is brain training. What else could be more important in education? As educators we ask our students to learn from us, but rarely do we take time to teach them how to learn. By teaching mindfulness, not only are you teaching your students how to learn, but you are also teaching them how to live a healthy life in this world. I began studying mindfulness in high school, although I didn't know it by that name. While I am a yoga teacher, mindfulness is far from being a hippie or a yoga thing. Mindfulness is used by Fortune 500 companies, graduate programs, healthcare providers, and the United States military as ways to train the brain. The research on mindfulness is growing exponentially. There is an increasing interest in research demonstrating the variety of ways that mindfulness practices can enhance your life and transform your classroom. So, check out these resources and let me know how it goes!
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The 5 most valuable things I learned in my research of this topic included:


  1. Mindfulness is a skill. Just like any skill it requires practice. The more you practice the better you get!
  2. Among many other benefits, mindfulness practices can increase one’s sense of wellbeing by reducing stress, improving working memory, increasing focus and cognitive flexibility, decreasing emotional reactivity and increasing immune system function
  3. K-12 schools that have implemented mindfulness practices in the classroom show improved test scores, reduction in aggressive behavior, fewer absences and fewer suspensions.
  4. The scientific study of mindfulness is growing exponentially. The research into how mindfulness practices affect youth is still very new, but more and more studies are being done every year. It will be exciting to see what is discovered over the next 10 years.
  5. Our brains actually change in response to mindfulness training!

The One Thing:


A Harvard research study looked at causes for success in over 1,000 students and found that self-control/self-regulation (mindfulness) was one of the greatest predictor of success in life. So Why Aren’t We Teaching You Mindfulness? In this Ted Talk by AnneMarie Rossi, she ask exactly that question. So, if you only have time to look at one thing on this Wiki, check it out! I bet by the time you are done watching it, you will want to find the time to check out the rest of these resources.

That is….unless you are stressed out. In which case I would recommend you skip down to #9, which is a breathing exercise that can help you let go of that stress before continuing to look at this Wiki.


5/5 This is such a powerful talk. AnneMarie Rossi does a great job of making it very clear why mindfulness practices are so important. Her presentation is clear and engaging.

Yep! I knew you'd want to know more...

While, I tried to stick to mindfulness as it relates to K-12 education, I found so many other amazing resources. So, I've included other videos and resources on mindfulness that are beneficial no matter who you are.

1. ABC's

Mindfulness! Where to start??? How about by learning our ABC’s….
In this Ted Talk, Susan Kaiser Greenland, mindfulness teacher and founder of Inner Kids, explains that learning mindfulness can be as easy as learning your ABC's. Well...the ABCs of Attention, Balance and Compassion, that is.


4/5 Susan does a wonderful job in this presentation, however I give it a 4 out 5 for this purpose of this blog because of the length of the talk. Otherwise, I would give this a 5/5.


2. Testimonials

Let's hear it from the students! Jedidiah tells us how mindfulness has changed his school and home experiences.

5/5 Jedidiah does such a great job of explaining how mindfulness has transformed his life.


3. Impacts of Meditation (a form of mindfulness) Education

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3/5 Cool picture, right? Well, while it does provide us with some interesting statistics and some sort of reference information, I have NO IDEA where it actually came from (blush). I can see a reference to Edutopia.com (which is very cool, btw), so I tried a search there. I wasn't able to come up with the article that this image belongs to, but I did find a fantastic research review of evidence-based social and emotional learning programs (also very worth checking out!)


4. Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education

Quick! Download this .pdf NOW, while it is still free and available so easily.

Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students
DOI: 10.1007/s12671-012-0094-5

The authors of this review article on mindfulness training in K-12 education did a fantastic job of explaining the different types of mindfulness training as well as detailing the benefits of mindfulness practices for teachers and students. Just take this article to your administrator and voilà! you have your justification for why your school needs to incorporate mindfulness. This article also provides an excellent review of existing mindfulness programs, so your school can choose the program that works for you.

5/5 This article is easy to read and reference, reflects current research, and provides clear justification for introducing mindfulness to K-12 education.


5. Room to Breathe

Room to Breathe is a documentary about struggling inner city middle school students, teachers and administrators and what happens to their lives when mindfulness practices are introduced in the classroom. This is the first mainstream documentary about mindfulness in education and it gives a clear picture of how mindfulness practices can transform lives.


4/5? This is hard for me to rate, considering I have not seen the full documentary, but the trailer gives me a pretty good idea and I think it's gonna be an insightful, helpful documentary. Maybe we can find a way to do a public screening for this class....


6. Mindful Schools


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Mindful Schools is dedicated to integrating mindfulness into education. They train educators, social workers, parents, psychologists and other adults from around the world in mindfulness practices, while also providing the tools and techniques for these adults to teach mindfulness to youth. Mindful Schools offers online courses of varying length, including a year-long mindfulness certification course for teaching K-12 youth. They also have a Mindful Schools YouTube channel with lots of examples of in-class instruction.

5/5 The Mindful Schools website is easy to navigate and provides answers to nearly any question you may have about mindfulness in education. They provide sample curriculum, links to other resources (including meditation tapes and children’s books on mindfulness), and evidence based research.


7. That's great and all, but I still don't get it. What is this mindfulness thing?

Mindfulness doesn’t teach you how to transform your problems, but it is a skill to transform your relationship with your problems. This video is a good introduction to mindfulness for adults.

Teaching Mindfulness to Children at Home and In Schools

3/5 This video was how I found GoStrengths! which is an amazing resource for teaching mindfulness as well as other social-emotional skills. While it is a decent introduction to mindfulness, I didn’t find it particularly useful in relationship to K-12 education.


8. GoStrengths!



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GoStrengths! Is a research-based social and emotional skill building curriculum for students ages 8-18. GoStrengths! Is designed to build 8 core skills, including goal-setting, problem-solving, resilience, optimistic thinking, character strength development, emotional intelligence, social connections, and self-confidence. Broken down into 10-modules, it is easy to apply immediately in the classroom. Teachers are supplied with access to built-in teacher training along with lesson plans, worksheets, and interactive games to support each module

4/5 This is an excellent resource!!! However, I gave it a 4 out of 5 because it does cost money. How much? I don’t know. Schools have to request a quote. However, many of the animations are available on their website as well as on their GoStengths! YouTube Channel.


9. GoZen!

GoZen! is an offshoot of GoStrengths! specifically targeting students struggling with anxiety. Using the same animated characters and training model of GoStrengths!, GoZen! gives youth the tools they need to conquer anxiety, stress and social phobias.

Feeling stressed out? Then try this mindfulness breathing practice! This GoZen! Animation explains how we can use our breath to moderate our anxiety and provides clear directions for a calming breathing practice.

4-7-8 Breathing Exercise by GoZen

5/5 Wow! What more is there to say? I feel so much better now that I have done those breathing exercises. In fact, I feel so good, I might be able to finish creating this Wiki tonight!


Another GoZen! animation. This one is designed for kids and can be used “as-is” to guide students in a mindfulness exercise. In just 3 minutes, students learn how to use their imaginations to help them relax.
Mindfulness Exercises for Kids: Still Quiet Place by GoZen!

5/5 GoZen! nails it again!

10. Slideshow on Mindfulness Training for teachers and students

Pssst…. Did you know that if you download the slideshows from Slide Share the hyperlinks in the presentation become active! That’s right, if you download it, a simple click connects you to the intended webpage! This is a slide show presentation you will definitely want to download. Created by Emily Railey, presumably for her class EDUT 6209 in the fall of 2013, this slide show provides links to all kinds of mindfulness exercises you can use in your K-12 classroom!
Mindfulness Training: Teachers and Students
By Emily Railey

3/5 While the information on the slide show is amazing and well organized, the full script for the slide show is not available. So unless you already have a good idea of what mindfulness is and how to apply it, current viewers may not understand what is meant by certain phrases or how to actually apply the practices.

11. The U.K. leading the way!

Much of the research about the effectiveness of mindfulness practices are coming out of the United Kingdom. In fact, the Parliament has taken such an interest in mindfulness that they are considering requiring it as part of the national curriculum! A 9-week mindfulness training program called .b (said "dot be") has become one of the go-to training programs. The name .b comes from the texts students are asked to send to each other at random points throughout the day. This text reminds the receiving student to STOP, Breathe, and Be, all the key parts of mindfulness. In this video, staff and children share their experiences of mindfulness and .b.


5/5 The staff and children do a great job of explaining how mindfulness has improved their lives. They also give a great introduction to the .b project.


12. Another International Perspective

Getting closer to the roots of mindfulness, this presentation by P.L. Dhar, a proponent of Holistic Education from India, demonstrates how mindfulness is a key part of a holistic education. This slide show is particularly interesting because it shows how mindfulness fits into UNESCO’s call for education in the 21st century. Here we break away from the standards found in the United States and see how the international community views mindfulness and why a holistic education is critical for humanity.

Holistic Education and Mindfulness
By P.L. Dhar

3/5 I love the international perspective offered by this slide show. The information on the slide show is detailed and well organized, however the full script for the slide show is not available. So unless you already have a good idea of what mindfulness is and how to apply it, current viewers may not understand what is meant by certain phrases or how to actually apply the practices. Also, there are Hindi / Sanskrit phrases on the slides that are not translated, which can make it hard to understand parts of the presentation.


MORE RESOURCES

Looking for more research articles to justify to your administrators why mindfulness practices are important for your school? Then check out these links:

13. Mindfulness in Education Research Highlights

An annotated bibliography of studies of mindfulness in education. Written by Emily Campbell, appearing on September 16, 2014 on the website Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

5/5 The science nerd in me LOVES this resource! Such a great starting place for anyone looking for more information about the effects of midfulness.

14. The Greater Good Science Center

The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. They focus on the core themes of Gratitude, Altruism, Compassion, Empathy, Forgiveness, Happiness & Mindfulness.

5/5 I was excited to find the Greater Good Science Center. They make so much information available and accessible. Their formatting could use some work to make it more reader friendly, but it is not enough an issue to decrease my rating of this site.


15. Mindfulnet.org

Mindfulnet.org touts itself that this is “Everything you need to know about Mindfulness on one website.” This is a site managed out of the UK and does provide a lot of great information and resources on mindfulness. My favorite part of the website is the research page, where pertinent research on mindfulness in broken into topic sections. It is very easy to navigate to the exact type of information you are looking for.

5/5 Another fantastic overview website on mindfulness.

Humor


For those of you who have ever sat in meditation, you know exactly what this is like!


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