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?

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  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

Scholarships

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.)

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:) 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.

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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: www.MindfulSchools.org/CID

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 MindfulSchools.org.

Media Contact

Billy Bicket
billy@mindfulschools.org
415.710.9345

Chris McKenna

“Just Breathe” Original Film

This incredible video was filmed and created by one of our Mindful Schools graduates, Julie Bayer Salzman. We’d like you to watch it and then share it with everyone you know. It’s that good.

Artist’s statement:

The inspiration for “Just Breathe” first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how emotions affect different regions of the brain, and how to calm down by taking deep breaths — all things they were beginning to learn in Kindergarten at their new school, Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. I was surprised and overjoyed to witness first-hand just how significant social-emotional learning in an elementary school curriculum was on these young minds. The following year, I decided to take a 6-week online course on mindfulness through Mindful Schools, figuring that if my son was learning about this, it only made sense that I should learn too. Within the first week, I felt the positive effects of this practice take root not only on my own being but in my relationships with others.

As a filmmaker, I am always interested in finding a subject worthy of filming, and I felt strongly that Mindfulness was a necessary concept to communicate visually. Thankfully my husband, who happens to be my filmmaking partner, agreed. We made “Just Breathe” with our son, his classmates and their family members one Saturday afternoon. The film is entirely unscripted – what the kids say is based purely on their own neuro-scientific understanding of difficult emotions, and how they cope through breathing and meditation. They, in turn, are teaching us all …

– “Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films)

Randima Fernando

Welcoming a New Year

All of us at Mindful Schools hope that your 2015 is off to a spectacular start!

As the year begins, interest in secular mindfulness has grown to an all-time high – with coverage in Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, countless contemporary books, and new research released almost every day, mindfulness has truly made it into the mainstream.

The notion that mindfulness is getting so much exposure is wonderful for all of us, whether we are practicing it personally or applying it in fields like education, health care, therapy, and so many others. If we pay close attention to the fidelity with which mindfulness is taught and represented, it has the potential to profoundly transform the way people of all ages and backgrounds relate to themselves, to others, and to the challenges and opportunities of being human.

For Mindful Schools, the essence of the Mindfulness in Education movement is transformation from the inside out. This organic, bottom-up approach is quite different from the typical education movement where an intervention is designed and implemented from the top down via policy, testing, or fiscal pressures. Educators have seen such interventions come and go numerous times, and they need an approach that genuinely puts their needs first. Our philosophy is to meet educators where they are – to start by aiding them with their own stress, well-being, and job satisfaction, and then offering the option to learn how to use mindfulness in their work with youth if they are moved to do so.

Our goal is to create a widespread, well-trained, and peer-supported network of mindful educators who are passionate about mindfulness because of their personal experience with it. We believe that these “early adopters” who lead the movement will inspire people around them to learn more – and we are thrilled that this is exactly what we have been seeing in our course enrollments. What began as individual registrations years ago has now grown to larger groups and entire schools driven by genuine interest in mindfulness rather than mandated policy – all as a result of the passion and dedication of our amazing community of graduates.

We are deeply grateful to all of you who have walked this path with us, whether you’ve taken our courses, supported us financially, advised us, volunteered, introduced funders, or assisted in any other way. All your actions, large or small, make a difference: conversing with your colleagues over lunch, commenting and sharing on social media, participating in course forums, or trying new mindfulness ideas with youth.

We thank you for all the innumerable ways that you’ve made it possible for thousands of educators and countless youth around the world to share the precious gift of mindfulness.

Our entire team wishes you the very best in happiness, health, and success in all that is truly important to you in 2015 and beyond. We have some very special announcements coming in the next few months, and we eagerly look forward to continuing this journey together with you.

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Sincerely yours,

our-organization-randima-fernandoRandima (Randy) Fernando
Executive Director
Mindful Schools

Chris McKenna

Holiday Mindfulness

Below is a short excerpt from this week’s Mindfulness Fundamentals with Guiding Teacher Kevin Griffin, longtime practitioner and addiction-recovery specialist:

One of my favorite movie lines is from Airplane, where Lloyd Bridges says, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” It’s one in a long line of gags about how difficult it is to change our habits. This week as the pressures of the holidays build, you might find yourself saying, “Looks like l picked the wrong week to practice mindfulness.” What with shopping, cooking, family responsibilities, and socializing, it may seem unmanageable to keep up with your practice. In fact, though, this might be the perfect time to practice. Now is the time when you can really benefit from being present. Can you enjoy the fun part and relax a little around the busy part? Can you breathe and calm yourself when the food is taking too long to cook? Can you let go of control when the kids are going wild, the doorbell is ringing, and you realize you forgot to pick up an extra quart of milk?

Whenever our routine gets shaken up with holidays, our regular healthy behaviors can get disrupted. Sure, you might not have time to sit with your breath as much as you have been; maybe you’ll fall a little behind in the material. But you can always pay attention. I find it really helpful to bring mindfulness to these unusual types of circumstances. I get to notice different feelings, thoughts, and sensations. And I get to see how memories of past holidays affect the present moment in terms of expectations, traditions, and habitual reactions.

I hope you’ll find this to be a rich week for practice. And for those celebrating, Happy Holidays!

~ Kevin Griffin

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Chris McKenna

Apply to our Year-Long Certification

We’ve officially launched the application to our 2015-16 Year-Long Certification!

We invite you to join us in this inspired work and bring mindfulness into your community.

A heartfelt thanks to our 2013-14 graduating class who created a scholarship fund to ensure ongoing support of this compassionate community of educators.

Sunset photo credit: 2014 retreat grounds by Patricio Madrigal Cauduro, Year-Long Graduate

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Chris McKenna

October Curriculum Training in New York!

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Mindful Schools Curriculum Training
October 17 – 19, 2014
New York, New York

“The New York training was beyond words! It has renewed my hope in education.”
~ NY-CT Course Graduate

Learn mindfulness, teach youth. Sign up online or in-person!

Vinny Ferraro, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan will be in NYC this October for our last in-person Curriculum Training (CT) this year, and we’d love to see you and your colleagues there!

Learn the basics of mindfulness in education, the neuroscience behind it, and how to implement our research-backed K-12 curriculum with youth.

Our in-person classes fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis and typically have a waiting list.

Register early to reserve your spot!

Location:
University Settlement
184 Eldridge Street
Speyer Hall

Faculty:
The instructors for this training are Vinny Ferraro, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan. They have over 40 years of combined mindfulness practice and over 30 years of teaching mindfulness and/or emotional intelligence to children and adolescents, as well as experience training many thousands of adults. Their work is featured in documentary films Healthy Habits of Mind and Room to Breathe.

CEUs:
We offer CEUs, scholarships, and group discounts for all courses. Educators can receive up to 3 CEU credits for this course. Click here for more information.

We award diversity and need-based scholarships on a rolling basis. Register early to secure financial assistance.

Prerequisites:
Mindfulness Fundamentals is the prerequisite to our Curriculum Training Course. Learn more about Mindfulness Fundamentals here or exceptions to this prerequisite here.

Sign up: CT-NY October 2014

Additional questions about our courses? Checkout our training FAQ or email training@mindfulschools.org.

We look forward to seeing you there!

– The Mindful Schools Team