The Mindful Teacher Foundation

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

 

Our Summer 2016 Newsletter

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Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids:
Celebrating Our First Year!
The 2015-16 school year marked an important milestone for the Mindful Teacher Foundation. Last September, after many months of preparation, we launched our “Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids” (MTMK) program for educators in local K-12 schools.

We offered this training through the professional development programs of the Champaign and Urbana public school districts. Thirty participants signed up for the course, including classroom teachers, librarians, social workers, school psychologists, and counselors. In the fall, participants learned the basic skills of mindfulness practice, and in the spring, they learned how to teach these skills to students. 

The course provided 24 hours of instruction over 19 sessions throughout the school year, supplemented by readings and individual practice. We received lots of feedback from our participants who shared what they’ve learned, how it has benefited them, and how mindfulness has had a positive impact on their classrooms and the kids they teach. Below are some examples:

“The year-long relationship focusing on this was fantastic. How rare it is that we get that time to focus and learn together.”

“This course definitely helped me personally and professionally. Meditations, like the 3-minute breathing space, helped me to remain calmer in the classroom. Additionally, meditation helped me to reduce stress and anxiety which assisted in managing my chronic pain.”

“I loved the help in establishing my own mindfulness practice. I enjoyed coming to a place where I could learn about something good for myself and children.”

“I felt a great sense of respect and professionalism about being able to take away what was helpful for me and my role with students during this training.”

“This is such a gentle addition to the box of tools we already use to help children learn. It holds great power though, to influence the whole child and give them tools that they can use for the rest of their lives. Do not be afraid of it because it is a bit different. Your students are worth it.”


We're encouraged and inspired by our first-year participants, and we’ve learned a lot to help us refine and improve “Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids” in the future. 
 
We Would Like to Thank...
We are profoundly grateful to everyone who helped make this first year of “Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids” so successful:
  • Our generous donors for their gifts and encouragement,
  • The Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation for funding "Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids" as part of their Innovation and Collaboration Tour,
  • Our participants for their commitment and hard work throughout the year,
  • Our instructors for their talent, wisdom, and dedication,
  • Our volunteers for giving their time and expertise,
  • The administration and staff development programs of Champaign Unit 4 and Urbana School District 116,
  • Stratton Elementary, Martin Luther King Elementary, and the C-U Friends Meeting for providing supportive spaces for learning and sharing,
  • The ChiMES research team at the University of Illinois for teaching us about the neuroscience of mindfulness,
  • The educators and community leaders who reviewed our plans and provided invaluable feedback, and
  • CARE for Teachers, Calmer Choice, A Still Quiet Place, and the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA for their inspiration and input.
On behalf of the teachers and students we serve, thank you!
 
What's Coming Up for 2016-17?
We’re now in the process of finalizing our plans for the 2016-17 school year. Here's a brief overview of what you can expect:
 

Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids (MTMK)

We’ll begin the school year with a new cohort of educators. In 2016-17, we’ll offer the course as a shared site so teachers from the Champaign and Urbana public school districts will have an opportunity to collaborate and learn with each other. We’ve also made some refinements to the program based on the insights and feedback received this past year.
 

MTMK Implementation Support

For those who have completed our 2015-16 training, we are offering an implementation support program to help teachers bring mindfulness skills to their students. The core of this program is a board-credit course in the fall providing 8 instructional hours over 6 weekly group sessions. The sessions include a practical review of mindfulness skills and a workshop where teachers can share implementation challenges and solutions. Participants in this course will also be eligible to receive individual coaching with a member of the “Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids” instructor team.
 

MTMK Program Evaluation

The Mindful Teacher Foundation is collaborating with a team of researchers from the University of Illinois to complete a preliminary evaluation of our programs. This study will help us better understand how teachers implement mindfulness with their students and the outcomes they observe. 
 
Champaign-Urbana Cradle2Career
The Mindful Teacher Foundation is now a member of the community council of Champaign-Urbana Cradle-2-Career, an effort that brings together school districts, nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, and local leaders. The purpose of this initiative is to take a broad and comprehensive view of how our community can best ensure the success of our children, from infancy into adulthood. The Mindful Teacher Foundation is also an active participant in the “Supporting Academic Success” (SAS) team.

We’re proud to be part of this effort, and we encourage everyone in our community to learn more about it and get involved!
 
Help Us Meet Our Goal!
We’ve set a goal to raise $15,000 this year, and your donation can make a difference. 

We are a volunteer-run organization so we can keep our costs to a minimum and offer our programs free of charge to districts and their teachers. Our expenses are relatively few but are essential to the success of “Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids,” including compensating our instructors for time in the classroom and providing participants with books, handouts, chimes, and other materials to support their practices and their efforts to bring mindfulness to their students.

Gifts can be made on our website at www.mindfulteacher.org/donate or sent via mail to the following address:

The Mindful Teacher Foundation
PO Box 202
Champaign, IL 61824

The Mindful Teacher Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, and your donation is tax deductible.
 
Mindfulness in the News
As the body of research continues to grow, we are very interested in what scientists and communities are learning about mindfulness and its benefits, particularly in school settings. Here are two stories that we shared recently with our followers on social media.
 

Reducing Teachers' Stress Leads to High Quality Classrooms

“Teachers who regularly use stress-reducing strategies increase their abilities to cope with the demands of the career and are positioned to do a better job educating students, according to results from a program administered by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.”

Dr. Patricia Jennings of the Curry School of Education is the lead researcher of this study that involved 224 public school elementary teachers in New York City. Jennings is author of “Mindfulness for Teachers” and developed the CARE for Teachers program, an early inspiration for the Mindful Teacher Foundation and its model of training teachers in mindfulness skills. What’s exciting about this study is that it shows that helping teachers reduce stress has a significant and measurable impact on the entire classroom.

Read more on the University of Virginia website.
 

Does Mindfulness Actually Work in Schools?

"A research team in Chicago has spent a year studying whether students who are taught to be in touch with their emotions do better academically. And they say the initial results are promising."

This May 2016 article from The Atlantic reports on an Erikson Institute study involving 2,000 students in high-poverty Chicago public schools. Among the questions the team is exploring is whether mindfulness helps increase the time available for instruction. “Some teachers have told [Professor Amanda Moreno, lead researcher] that where their classes used to need half an hour to settle down after lunch, a three-minute mindfulness exercise is now enough. (Moreno was careful to say that the team is still testing this theory and it’s too early to know for sure yet.)”

Read more on The Atlantic website.
If you enjoyed these articles, please consider following us on Twitter or liking our Facebook page. We will continue to post new articles as they become available.
 
Copyright © 2016 The Mindful Teacher Foundation, All rights reserved.

A grassroots not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation serving teachers and students in the Urbana-Champaign area.