The elements of the ecosystem- classroom environment, people, external conditions and collective experiences- all play a role in the health and vitality of this ecosystem. Conversely, the success of each individual element within the classroom is a reflection of the overall wellbeing of the ecosystem. In order for students to thrive, the ecosystem and all of its elements must be functioning in a healthy, harmonious way. This means that the wellbeing and attitude of each individual matters and is both a reflection of and element in the classroom ecosystem. If you want to support your students success then it is critical to address all elements of the classroom, yourself and your role included.
The rise of trauma, stress, depression and anxiety are having an obvious and major effect on schools' and students' ability to thrive. In order to teach in this modern day, it's not just about how effectively you can impart the knowledge and skills of core curriculum, but how emotionally intelligent you are and how successfully you can meet the social-emotional needs of each student. Just as you needed to learn your core curriculum confidently before you could teach it, it is imperative to learn social-emotional skills if you intend to support and teach your students. The key to supporting our future generation is in supporting you, the teacher, with both skills to support your students and skills to support yourself in the wake of all that you are taking on second-hand. My services for schools are centered around educators- teachers, support staff, counselors and administrators- to support YOU so that you may better support our future generation.
Teaching mindfulness to the student results in one person being positively affected forever. Teaching mindfulness to the teacher results in hundreds students being positively affected while also giving teachers critical tools to manage their own stress levels. This program creates a sustainable mindfulness culture within the classroom by working with both staff and students. Throughout the ten-months of the school year teachers go through monthly modules learning about the different principles of mindfulness and how they can be applied both in their personal lives and in the classroom. Modules come with guided mindfulness practices to follow at home as well as in-class mindfulness practices. The program is accompanied by a workbook to support teachers throughout the year with daily, weekly, monthly goal setting and check-ins as well as guided writing and self exploration. In person professional development and PLC provided, as well as in-class modeling of practices and consulting. This program is the most successful way to integrate mindfulness on a sustainable level in a way that is simple, pragmatic and honors the uniqueness of the classroom.
Educator Self Care
The success of the student is partially a reflection of their experience in the classroom, the vitality of the classroom is partially a reflection of the attitude of the teacher. How you, as a teacher, show up every day matters. How well you take care of yourself is not only a good idea, but critical piece to the success of yourself, your classroom and your students. This program is modeled similarly to the Mindfulness Mentorship, a combination of online and in-person education, consultation and support. The focus of this program, however, is entirely on the the teacher and their self care as it relates to SEL & trauma. This program is ideal for teachers who see the direct relationship between their personal wellbeing and their experience throughout the workday. It can be a great place to start if there is uncertainty around bringing mindfulness into the classroom.
Zone Master Student Leadership ProgramTM
This is a unique program intended to use mindful tools to achieve two things:
To provide enrichment for students who are interested in further developing their personal mindfulness practice
To create leaders within the classroom
The students receive time and training to develop their mindful practice skills, going deeper into the fundamentals of mindfulness, learning poses, exercises and sequences as well as how to teach these activities all while receiving support and mentorship from me. The program supports the growth of Mindfulness & SEL within the school without putting excess strain on the teachers to build the curriculum. It also empowers and builds confidence within students beyond the basic mindfulness training as they step into a leadership position.
My Journey to Mindfulness
My story begins in 6th grade, when I began experiencing depression and anxiety related to the stress that was going on both in my home life and at school. It was debilitating and despite always having a positive relationship with school I began to dread it. The biggest problem was that people didn't know that I was struggling, because I was a "good student," who didn't make a fuss or cause any issues. Even though I was suffering, I couldn't bring myself to show it or ask for support, so I carried on doing my best, getting good grades, not giving anyone cause for concern. Despite what was going on, I knew that this current state wasn't a place I wanted to settle, that it absolutely was a place that I could settle if I wasn't careful and finally that there were things that I could do to help myself out. So I began doing little things to help myself feel happier in the mornings, calm during the day and worthy in the evenings. It was all simple and although none of this "cured" me of my depression, it all helped to get me through my day. This taught me the first very important principle of mindfulness: it doesn't matter how elaborate the practice is, but if practiced regularly it will make a big difference. Although I continued to struggle with depression and anxiety for another decade, I will always credit my little practices as being something that kept me away from the edge. With time and the continued experience of depression and anxiety, my practices became more intentional and elaborate until they were able to finally help me overcome my struggle. This 'victory' taught my the second important principle: the life-changing results come not because of the practices, but because of the shift in mindset that the practices provide.
It was this personal experience that became the backbone of my work in schools- and what fueled me to get involved in the first place. Upon these informal practices came more formal studies and explorations. My work and my practice are both constantly evolving, because I understand very personally that our struggles change every day and so must our approach to them. Life is not a one-size-fits-all, so anything that is supporting life cannot be either. After years of working with students, sharing principles and practices, it became clear that I had created a disjointed system: by going into an environment and only supporting/teaching one element of the environment I was never going to see full spectrum, sustainable results. After all, we are in many ways a result of the environment we come from, so if I wanted to truly support the community I must support the environment, not the child alone. This brought my to my next principle: happy teachers change the world. The classroom is a reflection of the teacher: if you want to support the child you must support environment, if you want to support the environment you must support the teacher. Even though it seemed like I was taking a step back, I was really taking steps forward to achieve greater impact with the resources that I have.
Here's the thing: we all struggle, regardless of age, gender, class or race, it is how we approach and manage our struggles that separate us. There are students in your class who you know are struggling with their own battles, but there are also students in your class who you don't know are struggling, because they hide it well, the way I did. Extending mindfulness to the classroom is a way of creating a supportive, empowered environment every day, for everyone, even those who are afraid to ask.