Stories from Classrooms

We use both quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate our effectiveness. In addition to the information on this page, some of the best qualitative evidence comes from Room to Breathe, a documentary showing Mindful Schools at a San Francisco middle school with the highest suspensions in the district.

Anecdotal Evidence

Better Focus and Concentration

A first grader working on a math assignment is visibly upset and confused by the work. She puts down her pencil, closes her eyes, moves her arms slowly in a circle above her head, takes another deep breath, opens her eyes, picks up the pencil & finishes her assignment. It is 100% correct. Though the teacher is extraordinarily excited about the event, the child shrugs her shoulders and says “I just did what [our mindfulness instructor] Mr. Richard told us to do.

Raised Self-Awareness

Describing the benefits of mindfulness to a donor, a particularly enthusiastic fifth grader tells her, “The thing about mindfulness is that when you do something wrong you know it and you can stop doing it.” This 11 year old understands the power and importance of the self-awareness one gains through the practice of mindfulness.

Decreased Stress for Students and Teachers

A first grade teacher tells us she would like to speak at our fundraiser. We are all delighted to hear her describe the fact that after five years of teaching in an Oakland public school, she was ready to throw in the towel. Then the mindfulness program appeared. As a result she rededicated herself to the profession.

Improved Schoolwide Culture and Climate

A social worker in a Title One Elementary School in Sacramento brought the mindfulness program to 470 students at her school. She described how in the spring semester she had, for the first time in eight years, free time. “I had a 45 minute uninterrupted lunch daily and in the mornings I had free time because I had so many fewer referrals. The students use mindfulness to resolve their own conflicts and calm themselves down. Mindfulness is the only thing to which I can attribute the change.

Less Stress Around Testing

A public school teacher enrolled in one of our Mindful Schools trainings talked about her week at school. “We started STAR testing. I had two kids that were very nervous; both on their own started to do mindfulness. When they continued the test, neither was nervous and one even had a smile on his face.

Stronger Impulse Control and Reduced Violence

On the first day of school, five months after the program ended, a fourth grade boy replies to the question, “Did any of you use mindfulness over the summer?” “I was really mad at my brother and I went to go get a weapon. As I was going to get it, I remembered my mindfulness and took a breath instead.” Self-regulation and improved impulse control are important benefits of mindfulness that have the potential to decrease the violence facing our society today.

Fostered Conflict Resolution Skills

At the end of the school year a second grader relays the effectiveness of brain science. “Remember you told us mindfulness changes your brain? It’s true. Before I used to get really mad when someone stole the ball at recess. I don’t anymore; I can just work it out.

Increased Calm

A fifth grader describes how he and his Grandma used to get very upset by the upstairs’ neighbor’s noise. “Now we just practice mindfulness and it doesn’t bother us anymore.” Finding calm is the most prevalent answer we receive when we ask students about the advantages of practicing mindfulness.

Skillful Ways to Respond to Difficult Emotions

At the end of the school year, a school psychologist asked her students what tools they learned that they could continue to use in the summer when they are having a hard time. Every single one of them responded, “Mindfulness.

Increased Empathy and Understanding of Others

A teacher who wrote Mindful Schools a letter of support described an instance when a child with a very short fuse blew up at his table. His tablemates all calmly suggested that he remember to use his mindfulness. He was able to calm down.

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Quotes from Educators and Parents

“Suspensions at our school has dropped from 14 last year to 6 this year. We attribute this to the mindfulness program.”
Lake Shore Elementary School, San Francisco

“I had decided that this would be my last year teaching until the mindfulness program began at my school. Now I am rededicated to my profession.”
First Grade Teacher, East Oakland

“Mindfulness opens the mind to noticing, without judgment, how you feel, think, and interact with the world. My students have become grounded in a way I have never seen before. Their empathy for each other, kindness toward their world, and ability to focus is rarely seen in kindergarteners; but as we continue our mindful practice, these qualities grow more and more concrete.”
Renee Harris, Kindergarten Teacher

“I loved how explicit and succinct the curriculum is. It is a great reference tool for lesson planning. I appreciate the modifications for grade levels. Thank you for introducing this beautiful new skill into my life as an educator.”
Rachel Williams, Elementary School Teacher

“My husband and I had been having behavioral problems with my son in his kindergarten class. We tried everything from taking toys away to punishment and privileges being revoked. Then all of a sudden we stopped receiving calls from my son’s teacher. We asked our son, “What is helping you with this great new attitude? He replied, ‘It is breathing.’”
Parent

”After mindfulness today, they were so focused in music. They’re never like that in music.”
Kindergarten Teacher

”I used to yell, but now I talk quietly like this.”
Principal (on noise in the cafeteria)

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Quotes from Children

“The world would be cleaner and there would be less shooting if all schools had mindfulness. Mindfulness helps when I’m mad at my brother-in-law who makes my sister sad or accidentally makes my niece sick, so I breathe and I talk about it. I calm my mom down and it helps me go to sleep at night. I love mindfulness.”
Elementary School Child

“You can use mindfulness to cure all the revenge in the world.”
Fourth Grader

“I feel like I have the courage to do anything.”
First Grader

“When I want revenge, I could practice mindfulness and then the next day I would say I am sorry.”
Fourth Grader

“I was sitting in a party with my friend. Two guys come over to us and they want to fight. My friend has a gun and he’s ready to use it. You know what I did? I’m sittin’ in the party doin’ a body scan. That’s right, a body scan. I breathed. Then I took my friend’s gun and walked out of the party.”
Amar, a GED (high school equivalency) student in Virginia whose teacher attended our 2009 summer workshop

“The thing about mindfulness is that when you are going to do something bad, you know it and you can stop.”

“It helps me in school when I’m trying to work. It helps not get my name on the board.”

“I like mindfulness because it helps me feel better and teaches me to concentrate.”

“It really works – a lot of people should try it.”

“When I am mad or sad I practice mindfulness. First you have to close your eyes. Then you breathe out and in.”

“When my sister gets on my nerves I tell her to leave me alone so I can take a deep breath. I always use the technique whenever I am mad.”

“I think if everybody knew how to do mindfulness there wouldn’t be that much killing and fighting over little things. Mindfulness is very good for kids and adults.”

“It makes me happy and great. It’s calming and peaceful. It makes me grateful and light.”

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