Mindfulness in Education
Mindfulness in Education: Teaching, Leadership, Learning and Research
In recent years, mindfulness has been increasingly recognized internationally as a powerful tool to address the everyday challenges at school for both teachers and students. Research by the medical and scientific communities has provided evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, and in increasing emotional resilience, happiness, positive social behaviour, and cognitive skills. These skill sets promote a cooperative classroom environment, reducing bullying and other behavioural issues. It is clear that the cultivation of the mind effects positive change - not only for individuals, and classrooms but society and the planet.
A fellow meditator and teacher, Stephanie Benn and I provide local teachers with professional development workshops on mindfulness. (Our slide presentation is included above.) We have recently been awarded a 3 week grant to research mindfulness in education 2016-17 for the Ontario Ministry of Education, and will share our learning with teachers across the province. We look forward to networking with other teachers, by offering workshops on mindfulness, and by creating an online source of resources to help fellow teachers bring mindfulness to their lives, schools and classrooms. We are inspired by the teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese monk and Zen master who coined the term "Engaged Buddhism". He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King for his work. He now resides in Plumb Village, France after being banished from his country for his Peace Activism during the war.
This Introduction to Mindfulness article (link below) was published in the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board Health and Wellness newsletter and the Ontario Secondary Teachers Federation professional publication. It was co-written with Stephanie Benn.
After attending an Educator's Meditation Retreat at Brock University, a few of us started a meditation group in 2012 in the tradition of Thích Nhất Hạnh. We have grown in strength and numbers each year and its presence is felt in the community more broadly. The majority of our members are part of the education community.
I have turned to compassionate education as an aspect of my pedagogy and social justice work at PACE.The community I work with suffers greatly from the combined impacts of poverty, which often results in poor mental and physical health, as a result of trauma.They are often marginalized, facing many challenges and enduring troubled lives. Stress and anxiety are common problems.
Through the organization and conversations on my class room I try to create a peaceful and compassionate place. Along with making and learning about art and culture, discussing issues and what matters to them, I promote compassion, kindness and sharing, fostering a community of learners who enjoy what may be a refuge from their troubled lives. I consider evidence of my success in that my room attracts many students who choose to be there, and return to work on their math and English in my room. It is by far the busiest classroom in the school.
After school I run a Meditation Group for any interested students and teachers. I have also run a Mindful Parenting program as part of a support group for single parents.