True learning demands taking risks, meeting challenges, thinking creatively, collaborating respectfully and... stamina. So, how can schools help students develop an unshakeable, take-it-wherever-you-go resilience so students can thrive even in the midst of setbacks, vulnerability and/or conflict?
I have led K-12 experiential workshops for students, faculty and administrators on the Mighty Ms, which explores and answers that very question. I also share what the latest research has to say in support of exercises that help students develop interoception. Interoception is the process through which we notice our internal bodily state. In other words, how we feel.
Why is it important to help students develop interoception?
By helping students develop interoception, you're helping them exercise a growth mindset and remain engaged in the learning process. Those executive function skills our students are developing and need reside in the prefrontal cortex; however, when they (like us!) feel too much of anything (stress, anxiety... even excitement) they can lose access and connection to their prefrontal cortex, which causes them to fall back into a limbic, reactive, survival state.
In other words, our students cannot remain connected to those executive function skills AND be stressed out. Stress wins. Learning loses. As a result, students may spin out, tune out or shut down. Possibilities begin to shrink as they confine themselves to their comfort zones, thereby reinforcing a fixed mindset.
Fostering interoception, however, can interrupt that chain of events and help students become more self-aware and self-regulated so that they can navigate the social, emotional and academic demands of their day, both inside and outside of school, with a greater sense of ease and resilience.
I've created a variety of exercises, lessons and activities to help educators support their students develop greater self-awareness, steadiness, flexibility and resilience. This work is rooted in my experiences as a classroom teacher and my training as a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP) and Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF) Professional and Trainer. IRF is an experiential, body-oriented process of self-awareness and emotional healing developed by Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin. And, Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a body-oriented approach to healing trauma and stress disorders developed by Dr. Peter A. Levine.
It's not about excluding or getting rid of certain feelings (anxiety, anger, stress, worry, doubt...), but cultivating the ability to be with the full range of experiences and the feelings that come with them.
Here are some guiding questions I use and answer when working with schools to create workshops/ presentations that meet their needs:
How can we be with our thoughts and feelings without fearing them or feeling flooded by them and help our students to do so as well?
How does helping students shift their relationship to their experience foster a growth mindset or reinforce a fixed mindset?
What does all this actually look like in a classroom?
What are some developmentally appropriate exercises, lessons and activities teachers can do with their students?
Are there short exercises teachers can do with their students without taking much time away from content that needs to be covered? SPOILER ALERT: YES!
I'd welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you and customize a workshop to meet your school's needs and concerns. Please, contact me for a free consultation.
What People Are Saying
“Words cannot accurately describe how impressed we were with Lauren's approach to education, which is clearly informed by her meditation practice, knowledge of child development and the latest research in the field of neuroscience. She understood the futility of 'lecturing' students into becoming more resilient and less stressed. Instead, she turned her classroom into a lab where students, (my son, Jackson, being one of them,) were taught mindfulness exercises to help them strengthen their resilience and face challenges with a growth mindset. These invaluable life-skills resonated with Jackson--he discussed 'training his mind' much like doing wind sprints for athletics, and he became more spirited and determined to persevere when difficulties arose. Consequently, it was a year of tremendous growth --and self sufficiency--for Jackson. What Lauren taught my son continues to serve him to this day.”
- Soledad O'Brien, journalist & CEO of Starfish Media Group
"We would call ourselves parents of a child who thrived in Lauren's classroom. She is what you might call a game-changer. Her ideas are probably much more important than any facts a child will learn in a classroom. Our daughter - and subsequently the other two - is taking risks and rebounding from disappointments so fast that before you know it, she has found another success. Lauren can set the foundation for students to enjoy learning, and - most importantly - developing the skills to handle obstacles. The sooner we learn THAT, the sooner we learn ... more. We both wish we had a Lauren when we were growing up!!!"
- Melissa Errico, singer and actress & Patrick McEnroe, ESPN tennis commentator
"Village School faculty spent a school year fully immersed in wellness education and we were fortunate to welcome Lauren for several insightful, purposeful and poignant presentations. Beyond her obvious knowledge and experience in the work of mindfulness, there exists a natural relatability that draws you in and opens you up to deep conversations. Lauren helps you envision the possibility of growth and change in your teaching practice and in your own life. Lauren's work has significant reach as my teachers now regularly practice strategies Lauren taught them and our students are the beneficiaries. Lauren is able to see moments with great clarity and she has the ability to help others do the same. She is a gift to all teachers and learners."
- John Evans, HOS, Village School
"I have seen Lauren in action as a classroom teacher and leading workshops for teachers and it is clear she not only talks the talk, but she walks the walk (or sits the sit as it may be). Her ability to integrate the latest neurological research and mindfulness techniques into her teaching and classroom management puts her at the forefront of education. I have seen how Lauren's students continue to use the tools she has given them well after they leave her class because it has improved their learning and their lives. I have used some of Lauren's techniques in my classroom and at home with my own family."
- Barry Blumenfeld, Friends Seminary Faculty, NYU Adjunct Professor & 92Y Dance Ed Laboratory Faculty
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