Betsy Hanger

A Way of Teaching and Being

Meet Alan Brown, a Dean and English teacher at a progressive high school in New York City. He took a deep dive into mindfulness and it changed his teaching and his ability to create peace within himself.

Alan Brown teaches mindfulness to three high school students.I came to the Year-Long because I wanted first and foremost to bring a mindfulness tool kit to my students—something that could help with their academic stress as well as the emotional roller coaster of their social lives. While I understood this meant I had to practice mindfulness myself, I couldn’t have anticipated how much it would change my own life.

Our first retreat of our Year-Long began with a deep dive into silence and personal practice.  The panoramic mountaintop vistas and beautiful redwoods were easy to appreciate; it was much more difficult to just sit and examine my inner landscape.  Both my body and my mind were so agitated—fidgety, uncomfortable, unsettled—that by the end of the first day, I was strongly questioning my judgment in committing to a whole year of this.  But somewhere in the second day, continuing to pay attention to that agitation helped me see what I was actually agitated about—the parts of my experience to which I’d not given proper time or space before then.  I had no idea how upset I was with a colleague until I noticed the thought of arguing with him recur every five minutes or so.  I had no idea of just how much I was overeating until—with quite literally nothing else to notice—I saw that I was already full after my first helping and yet still went back for another portion.

To my surprise, the more I simply observed the agitation, the hunger, the anger, arise in my body, the more they also began to dissolve on their own.  This natural healing power of the body amazed me, and it gave way to a profound sense of stillness.  The teaching made sense in a whole new way, and only then could I understand that it was this sense of peace—not any breathing or bell-ringing exercise—that was the most important thing I could bring back to my students.  Before teaching them to breathe or calm down or focus or anything else, I had to show up differently as a non-reactive, present adult in their lives.  It was a way of teaching and being; not teaching a way to be.

New York City is a far cry from the quiet and peaceful mountaintop retreat setting, and upon my return to school, it took real work to cultivate that same sense of stillness.  But all of the stimulus of the city and all of the chaos of a school environment simply became part of my personal practice—noticing my reaction when I was frustrated with a student or how I felt when a lesson wasn’t going well.  In the face of all of these challenges, I learned to show up mindfully, both to my classroom and my life, and in so doing, I found precisely the tool kit I’d been looking for—one which had been there all along.

Alan graduated from the Year-Long Certification Program in 2013. Stay tuned for more graduate stories in coming weeks.

Randima Fernando

2016-17 Year-Long Certification Launched

We are writing to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 Mindful Schools Year-Long Certification. This course is designed for dedicated mindfulness practitioners interested in playing leadership roles in their school communities and in the Mindfulness in Education movement. The program filled early and with a wait-list last year, which kept quite a few of you from taking part. This year, if you are thinking about participating in this program, we strongly encourage you to apply early.

This is an in-depth program with various details to consider. We’ve broken this message into two parts for easy reading.

Logistical Considerations

  • The program runs from Summer 2016 – Summer 2017. It begins and ends with a 6-night in-person retreat. You have the choice of joining either the East or West Coast cohort. See the course page for retreat dates/locations.
  • In between these two retreats is 10 months with over 300 hours of rich content and learning – you will gain access to practice support groups, weekly consults with the teachers, short curriculum exercises delivered by video, classroom handouts, and guest webinars on research and neuroscience. The course page has an outline of how the program content is organized. In the coming weeks, we will also be sharing samples of course content on our blog and Facebook page.
  • The program is limited to a total of 190 seats. The first 100 people accepted between now and March 15, 2016 will receive the Early Bird tuition rate ($3,300). A limited number of scholarships for educators with a demonstrated commitment to serving high-risk youth in under-resourced schools are also available. See the bottom of the course page for pricing details.
  • Completion of this program (along with a video-taped teaching practicum) results in certification. As the Mindful Schools network continues to grow both nationally and around the world, graduates of the program are actively helping to meet the growing demand of institutions searching for highly-trained mindfulness educators.
  • Prerequisites for this program are our Mindfulness Fundamentals and Mindful Educator Essentials courses. If you want to be considered for the 2016-2017 Year-Long Program, you must complete these courses before filling out your application.

Intention of Program

As an organization, Mindful Schools aims to balance accessibility with depth.  On the accessibility side, we offer introductory mindfulness training online for educators who are new to mindfulness and eager to share it with children and adolescents.

At the same time, we recognize that many of you want to go deeper. Many of you have complicated, nuanced questions about how to integrate mindfulness into the culture of your school and how to modify and customize and combine different curricula into a program that works. You also have questions about your personal practice — you are hitting the edges of your own psychological conditioning and you need the ongoing support of good teachers and a supportive community to be able to do the deeper work.

The Year-Long program was designed to provide you with the extended knowledge and training needed to deepen your personal practice and to play a leadership role in the growing Mindfulness in Education movement.

If this resonates with your goals, we deeply and wholeheartedly welcome you to apply to the Year-Long program. We also encourage you to talk directly to your colleagues who have gone through the program. Finally, we encourage you to email us and set up a call to talk about the program and learn how it can serve your work in mindfulness and education.

Warm regards,
Billy, Christina, Chris, Megan, Vinny, and Randy

From Graduates of the Program

richard-dutra-st-john“Some of the most embodied facilitation I have seen… this faculty sets the gold standard in the youth mindfulness field.”

Rich Dutra-St. John
Founder of Challenge Day and the Be the Change Movement

sandra-delaney“After 30 years in Education, this is the best training I’ve ever been to. This is the real deal.”

Sandra Delaney
Former Principal,
Asst. Superintendent,
and Educator

luisa-alvisu“I am humbled by my experience. It’s been so brilliantly crafted, so simple, so easy, so seamless… We feel like family, really.”

Luisa Alvizu
Transitional Life Coach and Mindfulness Educator

Chris McKenna

A Typical Week in the Year-Long Certification

On our Year-Long Certification page, we try to be as clear and succinct as we can about the structure and content of the course. However, with all the various program components, it’s still a lot to take in. Here we offer a different lens for understanding the course: what is my average week like as a participant?

Here’s a typical Certification week-at-a-glance. All weekly content is emailed out to participants (as shown below) and stored in a learning management system.

In-depth conversation, group mentorship and coaching via webinar. Each week, you have the opportunity to receive mentorship on any aspect of your practice, teaching or program development from the year-long faculty. There is also time for informal networking and resource-sharing. Sessions are recorded with notes for later viewing.

1-3 video modules (5-20 minutes in length). Modules are designed to be short, practical, and specific (each video is 5-20 minutes long). Examples from the course:

  • Practice: Working with Tranquility, Unification and Absorption
  • Curriculum: Simple Movement Exercises
  • Skills: Charging Money for Your Programs
  • Science: Understanding the “Freeze” Response in the Nervous System

Weekly written teachings. Typically participants receive two written teachings a week that are designed to be usable in one of two contexts:

  • Professional development in education or mental health. (example: understanding the physiology of stress)
  • Teaching youth mindfulness. (example: the samurai sword: a metaphor for mental training)

Generally, weekly teachings fall into three focus areas:

  • Science-focused – they address scientific concepts applicable to teaching and explaining mindfulness.
  • Storytelling-focused – they provide myths, metaphors, poems and other material relevant to explaining mindfulness in culturally relevant and interesting ways.
  • Exercise-focused – they provide short games and exercises that can support teaching mindfulness to youth.

For more information

If you’d like to learn more, please see our Year-Long Certification page.

Randima Fernando

2015 Graduate Survey Results

Each year, we conduct an Annual Graduate Survey to learn more about the impact our graduates are having, how our courses have affected them, and how we can serve them better. The infographics below summarize the results our graduates reported after our Mindfulness Fundamentals and Mindful Educator Essentials courses. We’ll be using this data to inform more rigorous research over time.

Curriculum Training Results



Mindfulness Fundamentals Results


Chris McKenna

Guided Practices for Education Week Readers

Below are two guided practices for Education Week readers looking for a simple, practical introduction to mindfulness. The first is intended to help settle the body and the nervous system and become grounded in the present moment. The second explores the theme of developing kindness. Below each video, there is an mp3 audio file of the practice available for free download.

Download the audio file of Grounding in the Body.

Download the audio file of Cultivating Kindness.

To learn more about our core offerings, please visit our Mindfulness Fundamentals, Mindful Educator Essentials, and Year Long Certification pages.

Monthly Mindfulness Article Highlights

Our complimentary, concise monthly newsletter includes a summary of recent mindfulness articles & research, stories from educators, new offerings, 10% off our courses, upcoming conferences, and much more.

To join, click the “Subscribe” button and fill out the fields:

Our Mindfulness Fundamentals Course

For an introduction to mindfulness, try our 6-week online Mindfulness Fundamentals course (recommended by 98% of graduates), which has helped people from 50 states and 60 countries reduce stress, increase empathy, and learn the science behind mindfulness.

Randima Fernando

Silicon Valley Gives Event


A huge one-day fundraising event, called “Silicon Valley Gives,” is running today. We would love your help to get the most of this great opportunity to generate visibility for our work with high-profile foundations, companies, and individuals looking for a great cause:

1. Share this post and add something like the following text to your post (any added personal endorsement is also great):

“Please consider supporting Mindful Schools in today’s Silicon Valley Gives event. Mindful Schools provides online and in-person mindfulness training for educators, bringing mindfulness skills to over 300,000 youth to date. They have a $10,000 matching grant, and 100% of donations they receive will be used for scholarships.”

2. Given how powerful our community is, we can probably win the prize for most unique donors, adding a ton of extra visibility to our work (the leaderboard is on the Silicon Valley Gives front page). If you’d like to help with that, a $10 donation will get the job done. (You don’t need to be local to donate.)

Thank you so much for your consideration. Thank you also to the 1440 Foundation for their $10,000 matching grant! Let’s show the world what we can do together!

Randima Fernando

Mindfulness, Neurobiology, and Children

About this talk

In this “Talks at Google” presentation, Mindful Schools Program Director Chris McKenna shares exercises and strategies for bringing mindfulness into parenting and family life, including a discussion of young children’s neurobiology. He starts the talk with just a few minutes of warm-up practices, which we highly recommend. If you prefer not to do them at this moment, please jump ahead to the 11:00 mark in the video for the main talk.

Want to join the Mindfulness in Education movement?


  1. Build your own mindfulness practice
  2. Learn how to teach mindfulness to youth
  3. Help generate awareness, assist with networking, donate, or volunteer

Many thanks to Bill Duane and Kathleen Pedersen for the opportunity to present at Google!

Randima Fernando

Scholarships for Courses


Mindfulness is such a valuable tool that we want educators and parents everywhere to be able to take our trainings, regardless of their financial situation. Because of this, we use a subsidized pricing model where the fees of full-paying participants, combined with scholarship grants from foundations, make financial assistance possible for anyone who needs it.

How to Apply for a Scholarship

Please fill out an application to apply for one of our Mindful Educator Essentials scholarships.

Chris McKenna

Guest post from Danielle M., Mindful Educator

Thank you Danielle for bringing this work to life and making such a positive impact!

~ Guest post from Year-Long Certification participant Danielle M., an educator in New York ~

I truly feel that mindfulness has changed my life and I am LOVING my experience with Mindful Schools. In 2013, I took an MBSR course. After the first session I asked, “Why isn’t anyone doing this with children!?” Hahah, little did I know! Learning how to bring mindfulness into the classroom with the support of Mindful Schools has been more than what I could have hoped for. Without a doubt, it really has been one of the best learning experiences of my life!

For the past 6 years, I have served as a Literacy Coach for grades K- 5 in a NYC public school in Jackson Heights, Queens. I work with teacher teams as well as with students. I taught second grade for 9 years before that . . . and loved every single minute of it. During my undergrad work, I majored in sociology and elementary education. I went on to become a reading specialist and received National Board Certification in Literacy.

This year, in addition to coaching and teaching reading, I am teaching mindfulness to students at different grade levels. Since I am a coach, I have the opportunity to visit classrooms made up of students at all grade levels. The curriculum is so flexible that it allows me to work with kids at any age.  I also work with students with disabilities and students who are English language learners. I am able to adapt the curriculum to the needs of my students without too much difficulty. When I get stuck, I always have someone to turn to for help. The weekly teachings, videos and office hours have really helped me to reflect on what I have taught so far, and to plan for adaptations going forward. I am very, very fortunate to have so much support and to be working with an open-minded principal who trusts me and allows me to bring mindfulness to our school.

When I’m not teaching mindfulness in a school setting, I try to bring mindfulness to my community. Here’s a photo of me working with two little girls this summer (the sweetest sisters on the planet). While volunteering at a local event called, ‘The Night Out Against Crime’, I offered up a free mindfulness class for anyone interested. The girls plopped right down on the blanket and were curious to try it out. (They were awesome.)


:) And here is a photograph from a third grade classroom I have been working in. We were in the middle of a heartfulness lesson. ❤️ With our hands on our hearts as an anchor spot, we are sending kind thoughts to ourselves and to others.


Each step of the Mindful Schools program is incredible. You begin with a Mindfulness Fundamentals course online. Here is where you lay the groundwork for your personal practice. The online course is followed by Mindful Educator Essentials, which is offered both online or in-person. I took an in-person course over a weekend in NYC last year. This is where I really fell in love with the work. I was blown away by the team’s preparedness, intelligence, professionalism, passion and dedication to training educators in bringing mindfulness to children and adolescents. You are given a curriculum guide along with a workbook for the students as well as other resources. The Mindful Schools team trains you on how to teach mindfulness to children and adolescents through lectures, demo lessons and break out sessions that allow for structured practice, with support from the team.

I am currently enrolled in the Year-Long Certification program. It started off with an incredible retreat in California this summer. This week really inspired me to continue my personal practice and commit to the mission of bringing mindfulness to my students back home in Queens, New York. It included a few days of silence, community building activities, lots of lectures, mindful walking, mindful eating and much, much more. The remainder of the coursework is done online, which can be challenging at times. (I have to remember to be gentle with myself when I fall behind!) There is a lot of information to digest and a commitment to continue your personal practice. You’ll find that there is support from the team, as well as from your cohort. We check in with each other on a weekly basis through online office hours. We have specialists in the field of mindfulness visit our office hour meetings as guests speakers. There are videos posted, weekly teachings, suggested readings and reflections. The year-long program will end how it began . . . with another outstanding week-long retreat.

I am doing my best to savor each part of the process. Each time I teach a mindfulness lesson from the Mindful Schools curriculum I think to myself, yes. . . this is exactly what the students need — regardless of the classroom that I’m in or the students that I’m standing in front of. I look forward to becoming certified as I continue on with my training this year. I really do feel so fortunate to be a part of this amazing work.

~ Danielle M., Mindfulness Educator, New York

Chris McKenna

Mindful Schools Launches Certified Instructor Directory to Support Schools Nationwide

Mindful Schools Launches Certified Instructor Directory to Support Schools Nationwide
The first online directory of Mindfulness in Education instructors

Emeryville, CA (February 18, 2015) – Mindful Schools, a leading provider of online and in-person mindfulness training for educators, announced today the launch of its Certified Instructor Directory to support mindfulness in education.screenshot-cid This directory meets the growing demand for simple, effective ways to find and connect with certified instructors teaching mindfulness to diverse youth populations.

The directory will allow schools and youth services agencies to locate trained providers in their geographic area. It will also make it easier to locate instructors who specialize in integrating mindfulness into therapeutic settings with special needs youth (e.g. youth on the autistic spectrum, with ADHD, etc.).

The directory fuels a larger movement to bring basic self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy training to diverse school communities.

jon-kabat-zinn__400x400-150x150Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Schools Advisor, stated: “My first exposure to a teacher bringing mindfulness into her classroom in a systematic and structured way was over 20 years ago in a public elementary school in Utah. That teacher, a lone pioneer, had taken an MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) program at a local hospital and found it so personally beneficial that she decided to integrate elements of what she had learned into her fourth and fifth-grade curriculum. Back then, there was no larger movement among educators aimed at bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of public and private education. People hardly even knew the term mindfulness, never mind what it meant. Now there is a large and growing grassroots movement promoting mindfulness in primary and secondary education, and Mindful Schools is at the cutting edge of training educators to effectively integrate mindfulness practices and perspectives into their classrooms. This directory is a major step forward toward furthering that movement by providing a listing of teachers and other youth workers who have completed the Mindful Schools professional training curriculum and have been certified.”

Tish_Jennings-150x150“As this movement evolves, access to in-depth training becomes more and more critical. With the launch of this directory, Mindful Schools has made a significant contribution to maintaining a high level of quality and instruction,” said Dr. Patricia (Tish) Jennings, Mindfulness for Teachers author, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, and Mindful Schools Advisor.

A Mindful Schools Certified Instructor has undergone a minimum of 300 training hours in the Mindful Schools Year-Long Certification program and has been evaluated by Mindful Schools. Certified Instructors have made a significant commitment to the theory and practice of mindfulness in education.

Mindful Schools Certified Instructor Directory:

About Mindful Schools

Mindful Schools is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. integrating mindfulness into education and youth mental health. Mindful Schools has provided online and in-person training to thousands of educators and mental health professionals across all 50 U.S. states and 60 plus countries, impacting approximately 250,000 youth globally to date. For more information, visit

Media Contact

Billy Bicket