After the MI Reading Association Conference Workshop 3/9/2019

Posted on March 10, 2019


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Yesterday I presented on “Mindfulness and the Self-Care Toolbox” at the MI Reading Association conference in Grand Rapids, MI. Even though my room was a 7-minute walk from Registration, a lovely group of participants made the trek. Teachers know that they and their students are stressed and need strategies for self-care.

As usual, I had more content to share than time, so I tried to give a broad overview, examples of strategies to create a mindful classroom where students can practice self-care, and most importantly, student voices to explain how they use mindfulness and self-care practices to manage the stresses of life. (Students in photos above have given permission, as have their parents.)

This post is to follow-up on the workshop and will provide readers with information and resources to begin or further their own and their students’ mindfulness and self-care practices.

Resources I mentioned in my talk:

#1 Go-To: Dr. Vo’s Mindfulness for Teens. I also read from his book. I have 2 copies: one for me, and one to lend. Students do read it for Independent Reading. I have a student who read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin recently. I’m going to recommend Dr. Vo’s book next.

Dr. Vo’s Recorded Guided Meditations

Music: Happy Little Clouds, Mr. Rogers “Garden in Your Mind,” Joe Reilly “Breathing

10 Mindful Movements (with a Fox!)

Go Outside. “Access to nature and green environments yields better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline and impulse control, and greater mental health overall,” according to University of Illinois environment and behavior researcher Frances “Ming” Kuo.

How to Be A Mindful Leader

Many participants raised excellent questions; I will respond to some of them here.

How do we help students cultivate empathy?

We can model empathy, recognize and praise behaviors that show empathy in students and in the behaviors that students see in other people they know, that they see in media, and in the texts we read in class. We can choose texts that promote compassion.

The #1 way is to allow students time to READ. I appreciate Sean Rainey’s argument for reading and empathy.

When we add discussion of characters to the mix, we are helping students to consider a number of perspectives, both IRL and in books, and we can devise discussion prompts that ask students to think in ways that further their practice of empathy. I like to ask, “How might the situation be handled differently by a character if they had made a mindful decision?” and “Which character illustrates compassion (or empathy, or self-awareness, or self-control, PBIS concepts, etc)?”

How can we help kindergartners deal with stress?

How can we help students deal with their anger?

The students in the Just Breathe video provide the best answer I’ve seen, and they appear to be 6-ish years old. They are wise.

I find Thich Nhat Hahn’s teachings for dealing with negative emotions very helpful.

How can we explain to district officials and parents what we’re doing and how it benefits students?

These practices help students cultivate the self-awareness and self-control they need to succeed. How can we expect students to learn if we don’t give them the tools to be able to focus and engage with the community and the content?

Link these lessons to these goals and to the district mission statement and policies.

Share information about schools that replaced detention and suspension with meditation.

What are the links between mindfulness and PBIS? Here’s the 15-minute mini-lesson–with links to resources–I created for the PBIS committee at my school.

Are their schools that have implemented mindfulness across the board?

Mindful Schools,

Mindful Schools Podcast!

Implementing a School-Wide Program

Good Advice: How To Avoid A Poorly-Designed Program

MEA Voice “Members Bring Mindfulness to Schools”

The Books I Brought To the Workshop:

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know, or if you’d like to have further conversation.

Thanks for reading. Stay in touch! Peace & Love.