In our desire to feel deeply fulfilled, we are working towards our mission to deepen our personal mindfulness practice and weave it in the content we teach whereby our students are self directed, focused on learning and equipped to believe in the possibilities. Half Hollow Hills has supported and provided, both of us, incredible opportunities to help us arrive at where we stand today.
We recognize that stress, anxiety and depression, have become more and more prevalent in our students and in our world at large. Our journey began years ago when mindfulness was only a whisper. We were in search for a set of tools that we could quickly share with our students to help them focus and navigate through their negative feelings. We soon realized that mindfulness is not a “quick-fix” breathing technique that we can share with students and wish their feelings and problems away.
Throughout our journey we learned that without learning to quiet our own storm, we were incapable of helping students learn to notice and regulate themselves. Research supports that students benefit when they are in a classroom with a teacher who has a strong mindful practice. It is only when we are able to use our classroom like a container, that we can help regulate and groundl children with our own grounded presence. Teaching mindfulness to our children improves their abilities to pay attention,
settle down when they are upset to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
As we entered our year-long mindfulness certification journey, through Mindful Schools, we had gradiouse visions of sharing this with the entire district. We had dreams of branching out to other districts and teaching teachers about mindfulness, like a farmer ever expanding their farm. We quickly learned that mindfulness is not a “quick-fix,” but a long internal journey of learning to recognize and accept all parts of ourselves, especially the parts we don’t like. The goal is not to get into a brain-numbing state of bliss, but to learn to accept things as they are, knowing that nothing stays the same. Life, feelings, and emotions change, they wax and wane like the phases of the moon. We understand that we are not farmers but humble gardeners within our own lives and classroom.
We are now taking the steps towards a lifelong journey of practicing kindness, acceptance, and compassion for ourselves and currently, we are sharing our personal journey with our dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals. We are beginning to incorporate mindfulness into Candlewood’s Advisory program. We are, like all teachers, a gardener, planting seeds in a small classroom, with our students. We acknowledge that students need time to transition into classes and accept the limitations of the work we offer. Our current practice is incorporated into two content loaded subjects: math and English. It might be a soft strike on the chime, taking a deep breath along with a few seconds to become fully present in the moment, and filling our hearts with immense gratitude for who we are, as we are. We offer small practices, within our curriculum so that we never lose sight that we have the honor of working with young minds, young people who are on their own journey.