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Mindfulness in the Classroom

location_on Pittsburgh, United States

Mind Full or Mindful?

Creating calm, managing stress, and promoting teachable moments through reflection are just some of the techniques North Allegheny School District teachers and staff members have implemented with students. The District recognized the stress students feel and thus focused on creating positive, happy, and healthy learning environments by incorporating mindful strategies in K-12 classrooms.

Shortlisted
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Overview

HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

2017

Established

-

Children/users

1

Countries
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
I think that the training provided by the District was GREAT and has given me a new perspective, not only for myself, but also for how we can impact students in a positive way.
North Allegheny Teacher

About the innovation

Plugged into Mindfulness

Plugged into Mindfulness is a program that was collaboratively developed by the leadership of North Allegheny School District, Healthy Body Peaceful Soul LLC., and a core team of district educators to support students and teachers with managing the stresses that come from daily modern life. The goal of this work was to create a program that could be used by staff members for their own personal use and to incorporate mindful practices in their work with students across the District. This program was designed to educate individuals on the history and science behind mindfulness, as well teach a number of simple techniques and strategies. These practices focus on developing attention skills, resiliency, social emotional outcomes, and ultimately stress reduction. These tools were first shared with all staff members throughout the District in the hopes that adults could begin using these strategies to positively affect their own health and wellness.  The focus then shifted to how could these strategies be incorporated with students across all grade levels.

Steps

Learn It.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful.

It is helpful to learn these practices with someone who is trained in this work. These individuals and/or organizations can partner with the school or school district in order to help staff members better understand these practices and determine appropriate ways to work with students. In addition there are a variety of print materials available that can be used as a reference. The North Allegheny School District decided to partner specifically with Healthy Body Peaceful Soul, LLC to develop a customized program for the school district.



Live it.

Just like the development of a muscle through exercise, the mind changes, but only with continuous practice.  Individuals who spend time each day engaged in mindful practices such as breath work can positively change the way that their brain functions, especially in the areas of the brain that deal with emotional regulation, learning, and memory.  

Many teachers in the school district now plan how they will incorporate mindful practices much in the same way that they choose appropriate lesson activities and assessments of student learning.  These practices can also be incorporated in the moment when appropriate or necessary.   

Teach It.

Teachers at North Allegheny participated in two training sessions with members of the District's Core Team. Teachers reported statistically significant (p<.05) increases in the following areas:

  • personal knowledge of the benefits of mindful practices
  • teacher personal self-awareness, and 
  • comfort with using these practices in their classrooms.

The Mindful Practices program at North Allegheny offered teachers flexible tools to use when planning lessons that incorporate mindful practices. 

The intention of the mindfulness program was to help students reduce stress overall and develop: 

Attention Skills

❖ Greater ability to concentrate (spatial, temporal and suppression assumption)

❖ Finding clarity (having discrimination through detection and intense focus)

❖ Experiencing equanimity (a balanced internal state regardless of circumstances)

Social-Emotional Outcomes

❖ Self-awareness

❖ Self-management / Emotional Regulation

❖ Social awareness & Improved relationship skills

❖ Responsible decision-making

Resiliency

❖ Self-confidence

❖ Flexibility in the face of challenge

❖ Emotional resilience (recovery from stressful event)

❖ Trust in self and others

By incorporating mindful practices techniques throughout the year, teachers can positively impact the student experience and improve functioning in key areas of students' brains.

In addition, counselors and athletic coaches also incorporate these practices in their work with students.

Embed It.

Mindful practices can be used to support students in a variety of environments.  By utilizing different types of mindful practices throughout student's days, teachers support overall student development.  

Teachers at North Allegheny currently utilize different types of mindful practices in multiple classes and settings. Examples of 3-5 minute activities that are currently in use are:

Breathing

❖ Breath awareness

❖ Belly balloon breathing

❖ 4:8 Breath (K-5; straw breathing)

❖ (K-5) Volcano Breath

Movement

❖ Walking

❖  Dancing 

❖ Stretching

]Expression

❖ Art; drawing, painting, zentangle doodles

❖ Working with your hands; sculpting clay, etc. 

Listening

❖ Nature sounds

❖ Soft music

Gratitude

❖ Journaling about things you’re thankful for

❖ Naming positive qualities about self; Positive Words

❖ Kindness Practice

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