With the advent of the internet and social media, how can schools help support their students and meet their needs? When I was growing up, there was no internet and the teacher's role was simply to help us memorize content. Learning content is still important but, in my opinion, schools have an obligation to meet their students' social, emotional and academic needs because all three influence each other.
A wealth of studies have illustrated how stress impairs our health, ability to learn and maintain healthy relationships. Mindfulness exercises practiced in real-time can help students develop grit, empathy, self-awareness and the ability to befriend one's self without taking time away from curriculum content that needs to be covered.
And yet, I've noticed how teachers leap into teaching mindfulness practices without fully understanding them. Having been a classroom teacher, I know what it's like to immerse myself in a subject before teaching it, but mindfulness cannot be learned from content alone. It's an experiential practice that takes time to develop. I've seen teachers with the best of intentions tell an upset student to, "Take a deep breath and let it go." If only it was that simple! I've worked with students who disliked meditation because their teacher instructed them to keep their eyes shut and sit in a particular way, which made them feel uncomfortable. Other students have shirked away from mindfulness exercises because their teachers insisted they would feel more relaxed afterwards, but they didn't. Mindfulness is not goal oriented, and yet it's unfortunately being marketed to students (and adults) as a magical panacea.
I have led K-12 experiential workshops for students and faculty on the Mighty Ms. In these workshops, I guide students in developmentally appropriate exercises that encourage them to expand their awareness so they are not overwhelmed by challenging emotional states. It's not about forcing stress to go away but rather changing our relationship to it.
When working with teachers and administrators, I model how these practices can be adapted to the developmental needs of their students. Together, we untangle any areas of confusion, and I provide a greater conceptual understanding of how to teach these practices and what pitfalls to avoid. I'd welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you and customize a workshop to meet your school's needs and concerns.