This post is adapted from the book Teaching Mindfulness to Empower Adolescents by Matthew Brensilver, JoAnna Hardy, and Oren Jay Sofer (W. W. Norton, March 2020).
Life is often intense, but in this moment, it can be overwhelming. As educators, parents, indeed as humans, we find ourselves in a grueling and extended period of instability and challenge. Coronavirus, economic hardship, political strife and the transition to online learning are all unfolding in a context of a national grieving and reckoning with the country’s racial history. For many, it feels like the tectonic plates of our lives are shifting and we are not sure where to find our balance.
Given this context, our leadership role as educators becomes even more important. Our capacity to act as a keel in the lives of our students is vital. How can we serve this function and how might mindfulness help?
Continue reading “You are the Instrument: Teaching Mindfulness and Personal Practice”
By Debbie Zacarian and Becki Cohn-Vargas
As one school year ends and we plan for the next, we see the glaring inequities that the pandemic has amplified, and we recognize that steps must be taken to address them. Beyond adopting new guidelines for hygiene and reducing our schools’ exposure to potential infection, it’s urgent that we focus as much if not more attention to an inclusive paradigm of schooling. This calls for a renewed focus on the global wellbeing of students. We propose four guiding principles:
Continue reading “As Schools Reopen, A New Inclusive Paradigm is Needed”
By Miriam Plotinsky
As the school year draws to a close, educators nationwide are looking ahead to the daunting prospect of catching students up in the fall. Seen from a deficit mindset, meeting a broad range of student needs once the 2020-2021 school year begins seems to be an impossible charge. Without delegitimizing the concerns about what students have missed, particularly those who have not received distance instruction for a multitude of reasons, we must give students credit for their knowledge—which is vaster than we realize—as we prepare for next year.
Continue reading “Catching Up After COVID: Maximizing What Kids Know”
By Peter Smagorinksy
Republished with permission from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mental health has emerged as a critical social and educational topic during the COVID 19 crisis. My contact with my University of Georgia students throughout the shutdown has found many of them struggling with mental health issues. Many of them had pre-existing conditions of anxiety, depression, and other mood and neurological challenges that were ramped up by their return home.
The home is often celebrated as a sanctuary from the world’s ills and evils, but many homes are very insecure. Some of my students left their college dorms for homes characterized by abuse, alcoholism, crowded quarters, anxious and frustrated parents, and other sources of stress and fear. Others developed anxiety and other challenges when cut off from friends and social lives and forced into baby-sitting or home schooling duties with their younger siblings by parents who were deeply stressed by demands of their own.
Continue reading “Pay more attention to mental health than to test scores”
Twenty years ago, “mindfulness” was nearly absent from conversations in the education world. Fast forward to 2020, and we’ve witnessed an incredible surge of interest in integrating mindfulness from teachers, administrators, policymakers and researchers. What accounts for this interest?
We suspect one key reason is that under the stress of expanding classrooms and standardized assessments, the teacher-student relationship has suffered. Sharing mindfulness helps reclaim the emotional poignancy of learning, which is, in the end an exchange between two people. The following excerpt from our book about teaching mindfulness to adolescents focuses on the power of self-disclosure by both teacher and student as they build and navigate an authentic relationship that facilitates deep learning.
Continue reading “Trending in 2020: Mindfulness for Adolescents”