Mindfulness, or paying attention to the present moment without judgment, has been shown to support students to meet the academic demands and pressures of an increasingly changing and challenging world. 21st century students must balance a wide array of responsibilities and make sense of vast amounts of easily accessible information most adults have never had to contend with. Understanding the diverse needs of students requires educators to employ a variety of intentional strategies to support student academic and social-emotional needs. This course will support teachers in understanding and employing mindful strategies that help them be more responsive to their students’ social-emotional and instructional needs as well as help students develop 21st Century Skills. The course prepares educators to weave simple and effective mindfulness activities into their classroom on a daily basis.
The course begins by describing some of the emotional and academic demands students face and the impact it has on their nervous system and executive brain functions. Students are increasingly stressed, or face overwhelming circumstances that cause anxiety. It can be even harder for students living in poverty or who have experienced trauma. Their bodies and minds are also changing rapidly as they are beginning to find their place in a complex and increasingly interconnected but isolating world. The course defines mindfulness awareness practices, details the ways mindfulness practices can support students’ varied needs, and reviews guidelines for sharing mindfulness activities with students. Learners also explore the ways mindfulness supports Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and differentiation. Additionally, the course offers guided audio and video recorded practices and other resources to help teachers experience and facilitate mindfulness activities. Attention is also given to ways educators can weave mindfulness practices into class routines to support planning and preparing, classroom instruction, classroom climate, and meeting professional demands as described in the Danielson Framework for Teaching.
Throughout the course participants will reflect on the ways they are currently supporting their students and appraise ways mindfulness can bolster those strategies. In discussion boards they will describe the particular needs their students face, ways they differentiate and are responsive to those needs, as well as ask for and give suggestions and tips to to effectively engage students. The course ends by exploring ways to implement mindfulness activities into classroom routines and ways to engage families and the community at large to garner support for mindfulness initiatives. The final project will build on the authentic tasks, reflections and discussion board assignments by asking participants to design an action plan to implement mindfulness practices and activities into their classroom routines to support student learning, social emotional intelligence, and 21st Century skills like collaboration and communication and global awareness.