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SMILES in Education
SMILES in Education Program
Vishal Sharma, Founder, SMILES in Education
The Problem: Mirage 2015, a TNTP publication showed that despite a large investment in teacher development, there is no substantive improvement in teaching quality. Teacher training programs are usually standardized crash courses not accounting for needs of local teachers making it undesirable for them to actively participate. UNESCO Global Monitoring Report- Education For All 2014 also observed “The only way to solve the learning crisis is to get teachers who are trained, motivated and who enjoy teaching”.
Our Solution: We have designed S.M.I.L.E.S. (Stress-free Motivating Inquisitive Learning Eco-System), a continuous and comprehensive holistic teacher development and support program which can be sustained by local teacher leaders. SMILES envisions a stress free, self-sustaining learning community of motivated teachers using mindfulness and yoga integrated with pedagogical skills for excellence in academics and wellbeing of students and teachers.
SMILES generates a positive learning ecosystem for teachers that imparts context based new knowledge and skills in a stress free manner. It motivates by boosting their self-esteem, helping them utilize their talent and passion in classrooms and giving due recognition and opportunities for growth. It generates curiosity in teachers for learning and exploring new ways of teaching.
Within a couple of sessions, most teachers become comfortable enough to practice these skills with their students in the classrooms.
For students, SMILES provides integrated learning with the powerful concept of Mindfulness and Yoga to bring improvements in their focus and concentration, academic performance and emotional well-being. It also develops values like compassion, mutual respect and gratefulness which reduces classroom conflicts and bullying, enabling all-inclusive growth.
Mindfulness means being in the present moment and focusing on it. If teacher & students are frequently focusing on the present moment, their attention span improves giving better class control, better concept clarity and active participation resulting in academic excellence.
How do we do it?
Teachers trained with “SMILES in Education” plan every learning session using three main components:
1. Mindful Beginning: Here the teacher seeks any values from the students that they want to inculcate and be mindful about throughout the lesson. Using Mindful Breathing, these values are imbibed in by all students. Then teacher introduces “what” we are going to learn today and how it is related to what we learnt before. He also talks about “why” this knowledge helps us in daily life.
2. Mindful Learning: Then most of the session is spent learning “how” of the topic using best pedagogical skills (like inquiry based discovery, peer learning, activity driven learning, realia etc.) and well-being techniques (mindful energizers, mindful healing etc.) seamlessly integrated using SMILES Rules of learning for increased efficiency and classroom control.
3. Mindful Closing: Towards the end, a mindful reflection of what, why and how of what we learnt today is done by all students and teacher together. Its most powerful part of the lesson where mindfulness helps students to recall, comprehend & memorize new knowledge gained. Gratitude is also part of this closing for positive relationship building with teacher, fellow students and self.
PILOT and IMPACT data:
Click here for impact data chart
Some Impact data from our “SMILES in Education” program running for 6 months from June 2018 in 3 schools in India is given below:
1. Effectiveness Survey showed that out of 2,231 students, the number of students who gained confidence in learning and were able to recall quickly, increased from initially 720 students to 1383 students after they used the SMILES rules. This is a ~ 30% increase in just 4 months of implementation.
2. Motivation and productivity survey among teachers using SMILES in Education program shows:
i. 100% feel happier and healthier after using SMILES rules in classroom.
ii. 90% find SMILES Rules easy to implement in classroom.
iii. 80% teachers say their classroom has become more joyful.
iv. 79% teachers say their students became more attentive and more calm.
v. 67% teachers say their students show more interest in participating in classroom.
We have done 2 pilots of components of SMILES program in low income schools in Ahmedabad, India from November 2016- April 2018 directly impacting ~60 teachers and indirectly impacting ~1500 students. We conducted over 16 bi-monthly workshops, gave demos in classrooms, made classroom execution videos and held development discussions with several teachers.
The attendance of each of our workshops has been > 90%.
As the program progressed, we saw significant improvements in teachers’ motivation & participation levels in individual as well as group activities.
Several teachers have on record acknowledged how confident and motivated they feel after attending SMILES.
We also took testimonials from principals and trustees. The principal and supervisors are very satisfied with overall improvement in school culture and joy levels. They are very excited to continue the program for the second year.
Currently we have expanded SMILES to three schools with ~ 150 teachers and over 4500 students.
1. Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students:
"John Meiklejohn, Catherine Phillips,et al. (2010)"
2. Mindfulness meditation may lessen anxiety, promote social skills, and improve academic performance among adolescents with learning disabilities. Complementary Health Practice Review, 13,34–45. doi:10.1177/1533210107311624
"Beauchemin, J., Hutchins, T. L., & Patterson, F. (2008)"
3. Third Eye Acupressure point GV24.5 - Acupressure for Hormonal Balance, Depression, Anxiety, ADD, ADHD, Racing Thoughts, and Mental Health
"Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D., Acupressure Institute founder & Director, Berkeley, CA, USA"
4. Effect of Nabho Mudra on Memory Introduction Research Methodology
"Gokul Singh , Yogacharya , Panjab Sindh Kshetra Sadhu Mahavidhayalaya Rishikesh,Uttarkhand, India"
SMILES integrates mindfulness into the day to day pedagogy of educators.Impact
Impact data from surveys conducted on “SMILES in Education” program running for 6 months from June 2018 in 3 schools in India: 1. 80% participant teachers who used SMILES techniques in classroom reported increased classroom joyful levels; 79% reported more calm & attentive students. 2. 100% teachers reported increased health and happiness levels. 3. A Learning Effectiveness Survey on 2,231 students showed that by using SMILES rules, there was a 30% increase in student learning and recalling outcomes.Scalability
SMILES would be made open source for anyone to use through online/app based delivery including online video tutorials as well as supporting structures like surveys, observation toolkits and performance metrics.