Mindfulness in Secondary Schools

Hello dear friends in mindfulness,

I have been teaching high school French for 26 years and this year, I had the incredible fortune of being able to take my personal mindful practice into the classroom. My high school accepted my proposal to offer a one-semester, one-credit elective course in Mindfulness. We are a small school of 800 and I had three sections of Mindfulness this year. Next year, there will again be three sections of Mindfulness and, by student request, a second semester of the course (Mindfulness 2). I would love to connect to other high school educators who are teaching mindfulness as a semester course or with anyone who is interested in sharing ideas.
Thanks in advance!

Warmly,
Michelle Martin
(Indianapolis, IN)

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Hi Michelle,

My name is Janet Brown, and I teach a course called “The Art of Being,” a Health and Wellness elective at a grades 6-12 school in central Massachusetts.

I am really interested in learning about your curriculum/ideas and in sharing mine.

With Gratitude,

Janet

Hi Janet!

Sounds wonderful! Give me a few days as I wrap up grades for the semester. Would that work for you? I would love to exchange ideas and thoughts! Thanks so much.

Warmly,

Michelle

Hi Michelle,
I think I attended your workshop at the Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully Conference last February outside of Chicago - yes? Have you been able to connect with other high school educators via the COSEM FaceBook page?

Hi Janet,
I coordinate the COSEM chapter in New England, aptly called “Educating Mindfully New England.” We had our first chapter meeting in April in Southborough, MA. There will be a second meeting this summer. I’d love to connect you with some of our members who teach secondary (myself included)! If you’d like more information about the national coalition please visit the website: educatingmindfully.org and if you’d like to connect with us here in New England, please email me at edmindfullynewengland@gmail.com.

Hope to hear from both of you!
Kindly,
joan

Hi Michelle,

I’m also interested in your curriculum and approach (and the curriculum proposal) in a full one semester course. I have been teaching mindfulness at a k12 school for the last 4 years in various formats and the idea of offering a for credit designated mindfulness course is interesting. Though I’ve taught a couple of full 9wk courses using the MiSP curriculum, for the most part I teach techniques in isolated situations or groups (Peer helpers session as part of their training, the sports team I coach, a few lessons once a week for a class, 2 class introductions or tune-ups).

Can I join in with you and Janet’s conversation?

Thanks,
Jim

Hi everyone! I would love to continue our connection. Do we do that via this post or do we exchange personal emails and do so in that manner? I wasn’t sure what was protocol here and I didn’t want to overstep my bounds. :)
Warmly,
Michelle

Hi Joan,

Thanks for reaching out! No, I haven’t met anyone who teaches mindfulness in high school but, in truth, I haven’t had much time to reach out. I am looking forward to making some connections, hopefully, this month. If I could clone myself, I’d be quite productive – lol. Thanks for asking and sending me an email. I do hope we meet up again!

Warmly,

Michelle

Thank you for this post. I would love to be included on any developments. I teach 9-12 public high school yoga (with HUGE focus on mindfulness) in Orange County, CA. Additionally, working with our County Office of Eduction to further implement mindfulness into physical education classes and throughout a school wide setting.

Please keep me informed of next steps to exchange ideas, thoughts and better practices to serve our youth.

christycurtisyoga@gmail.com

Hi Michelle,
I work in the Spiritual Life Department at Culver Academies- just a short drive from you! How wonderful that you were able to implement a course at your school! It is a new concept for many here in the Midwest. We have some scattered offerings of Mindfulness education here at Culver- in groups, in classes, and in Spiritual Life services. I am involved mostly in leading a Meditative Freewriting group. I have recently completed a mindfulness course through UMASS, and have incorporated some guided meditation into my group. The students truly benefit from this practice, even though it is a short meditation. I have my own practice, and am working on bringing more information on how we can further integrate mindfulness practice onto our campus. I would love to find out what your curriculum encompasses. The big question that I want to answer is what practices work best for teens. Thank you for your inquiry. In peace,
Kristen Counts
(Culver, IN)

Good afternoon everyone!

A couple of you asked what I am using for my curriculum and I thought I’d share what I have been doing. i would love to hear what you are doing as well if you don’t mind sharing. :)

Since last year was my first year of teaching the course, I wanted to find a one-semester curriculum specifically for teens. One that caught my eye was MBSR-T with Gina Biegel (stressedteens.com). She has lots of experience with teens and took the MBSR curriculum and adapted it to teenagers. I took her online training and was pleased with the 8 week program that she had developed. The concern I had was stretching the program out to fill a one-semester high school course that met for 200 minutes/week.

I need not have worried b/c my students took well to the curriculum which includes a workbook for them and I had more than enough material! To give you a little more detail: I started each class with a gratitude moment (students kept a gratitude journal and I gave them a prompt each day we met). If students were willing to (and mine certainly were!), I asked them to share their responses in a small group, with a partner, or as a whole class. The activity allowed for some thoughtful responses from the students themselves and there were some days when the gratitude journal sharing took 20 minutes!

After the gratitude journal, I just followed the program in the instructor’s guide that Gina shared and adapted it to fit the needs of my students. New material was introduced (powerpoints, ancillaries, student workbook, etc. - all in Gina’s program) and as the students became more comfortable and adept at managing a longer, formal, guided meditation, I would add those on the days when I could see they needed something in particular. For example, when I could tell that they were stressed about mid-terms, I would do a guided visualization or another meditation to help them work through their anxiety.

I also tried to incorporate as many hands-on activities that I could find on the internet for each lesson. There are quite a few including awe walks, eating mindfully, etc.

Something else that I did that I found very helpful was to administer a pre-course self-evaluation and a post-course evaluation (same evaluation). I kept the pre-course eval in a sealed manila envelope (I promised the students that I wouldn’t look at them) and after they completed the post-course eval, I handed them their pre-course eval so they could compare. It was awesome to hear the students yell, “Hey guys! I improved on ____!” I didn’t demand that the students turn in their two evaluations, but I did tell the students that I was really interested in how they did. Every student turned in their evals so I have some data to look through this summer. :)

I also asked students to “write me a note/letter” about the course. In the letter, they could tell me anything: was there something specific that you learned that really helped you? that didn’t help you? that you enjoyed most? that you didn’t enjoy? that you would change? etc.

Sorry the message was so long! I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you!
Warmly,
Michelle

Hi Michelle,

I am in finals this week. Anytime starting next week is good. I am heading out on silent retreat on the 22nd, so between this coming Monday and then is ideal.

Hi Michelle, I teach mindfulness as private workshops to children from 10 to 13 years old. I am trying to give a permanent class one day a week at schools . I am interested in sharing ideas of my practice with you and getting to know your practices also. Please include me in any call you get about this. My email is isabel.castrou2@gmail.com

All the best,