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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Mindfulness

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

students walking4

Walking is a tonic for body, mind, and soul.  (Rubinstein, 2015, p. 251)

Walking With High School Students

The Walking Curriculum offers learning activities designed to simultaneously develop your students’ sense of place and to enrich their understanding of cross-curricular topics and core competencies. Walking curriculum activities reflect the principles and practices of Imaginative Ecological Education as they connect engagement of the body, imagination and the local natural and cultural context through outdoor learning activities. The following walking-based activities have been specifically designed for secondary school-aged students.  Topics include connections between walking and mental health, mindfulness, and awareness.

2 Walks For High School Students: Practicing Mindfulness & Awareness  

#1 Mental Health Walk(s)

Walking has been called the “magic pill” for wellness as it can positively impact so many aspects of our physical and mental health. This walking theme will focus on the practice of walking to reduce stress and anxiety. Begin by asking students: Why walk? What are the benefits? Have a general discussion about the positive aspects of regular walking. Students may already know that walking builds muscle strength and bone density, lowers blood pressure and risk of heart disease, burns calories helping in weight management, and eases back and other muscular pain. Walking has also been shown to slow physical signs of aging (e.g. by keeping the body subtle and the heart healthier) and also supports brain health (cognition, memory) into old age. Walking is also an effective means to lower stress and anxiety. Discuss some of these commonly known benefits of walking with your students but then challenge them (as a follow-up) to independently research one more benefit of walking that is less well-known (e.g. recent studies associate walking with retinal health--I did say it was a magic pill). 

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

Stressed student

Stress Impairs. Stress Damages. Stress Kills.

Stress stinks really bad.

Fear, anxiety, shame, powerlessness, hopelessness. These are all feelings that can lead to stress.

But are they real? 

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

social media

My kids think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. I grew up without a cell phone. So, when I was away from home, I either didn't talk to anyone who wasn't with me (gasp) or I brought a quarter and used a pay phone. (What's that?) My first computer was practically the size of a smart car. I looked things up in books called encyclopaedias. I couldn't take a virtual tour of the MoMA from my sofa.  I could go on and on.  Life—such a cliché—was very different.

Nowadays, alerts, alarms, beeps, bleeps, tweets, nudges, and notifications are a part of life; they are our “normal”. Information travels at warp speed in a highly technological world—and we are constantly being notified about it. We live in a world of seemingly endless distractions. Those people who function best in this media mad world are those that live in a perpetual state of multi-tasking.

Here's the rub: nothing comes without a cost. It seems to me that our kids are missing out on important aspects of being and knowing if we do not explicitly balance out technological and cyber ways of learning with direct, body-based, and sensory types of learning experiences.

I wonder…

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Posted by on in Professional Development

music notes png by doloresdevelde d5gt351

For the new school year, why not try a little “day music” to get educators acquainted with themselves, colleagues, and students in a professional development session? My Contemplation Music Writing Project helped students find inner peace and I believe it will work with teachers.

But you might be wondering how I can make this leap from kids to adults? Can the project be adapted to expand intra- and interpersonal communication skills in educators’ worlds? How do we create a more tranquil individual and overall school environment? Can we deflate the stress effecting teachers today? Is it at all possible?

In a word, “yes.” My approach to EI/SEL is an alternative to the mindfulness programs used in schools. It was extremely successful with inner city students under very difficult circumstances. People use this simple technique in daily life without realizing it. And it all centers on music and music listening.

Picture this imaginary scene in professional development session:

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Peak Personal Growth

Those of us who actively engage ourselves in the noble and remarkable craft of teaching soon realize that we’re as much a student as the kids we are standing in front of. We set up our classrooms with all learners in mind, we research effective classroom layouts and design, share best practices with our colleagues, and spend nights wondering how to finally --effectively-- integrate an activity that we’ve had growing in our imagination into what we’re teaching. Along this journey we start to see how much we’ve changed-- not only because of the students we serve, but because of the hard work we’ve done in order to help them. The true love and passion we have for our calling results in the insight that our kids have effectively taught us to become a better version of ourselves. We understand that our kids have helped us get closer to who we want to be and we now know our true job is to help each one of them get closer to who they will become.

Stick with me here, I’m not as much of an idealist as I let on.

If you’re a teacher you also know the flipside. The daily stress, the weight of outside sources expecting new demands, mandatory state testing, the sitting through workshops that you’ll never use, the kids in your class you just can’t get through to, and three thousand other things. Literally, three-thousand. On top of this there is the low pay, the persistent frustration you feel when you see people without half the education you have making double the income. There’s distrust from parents who know and love their child and don’t believe you do. You’ve got to deal  with the common cold and more noroviruses than the CDC, the often mundane morning announcements, and field trips that make you anxious, bored, or both. There’s a sea of ancillary worries that pull you from your one true mission. At times it makes you feel-- deep down at a gut level-- like you’ve made a bad, bad, decision. It’s a lot to handle. It’s never too much, but sometimes it feels that way.

Teaching is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of true genius --- the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in your head at the same time --- brought to life. It’s an act that can be one-hundred percent gratifying and simultaneously thankless. Magic moments of complete fulfillment and joy, where students make milestone breakthroughs, can be quickly replaced with the existential-level understanding that there’s plenty more work to do. We can be overwhelmed with concrete knowledge that we get a chance to make permanent positive impressions on kids, and at the same second feel deeply saddened that we won’t always get through to the child who will need it most. Teaching is the narrative of humanity, the ancient and modern lessons that so many have tried to share, sitting in front of you day-to-day.

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