Building Our Community, Together
At the start of the year, we kicked off our inaugural Community Advisory and Action Team of seventeen Mindful Teacher Grads. This group of volunteers has committed to spending a year coming together on a bi-monthly basis using a Community of Practice framework to identify the needs of the Mindful Schools community and what we could do to support their development. The project is facilitated by Christina Costelo, Head of Community Engagement, who has been working with the Mindful Schools community since 2011 and is excited about starting this new chapter in collaboration with other community members.
One of our initial goals has been to develop a community charter. Mindful Schools has taken pause to reimagine how to better support our community in their journey of practicing and teaching mindfulness. This community charter endeavors to state who the Mindful Schools community is, what they value, and how they benefit from by being a member of this community. To be able to develop this community charter, our collective group began asking: What do we value? What aspirations to do we have for ourselves and our community? What are the current gaps in resources and support elements to get us there? What kind of activities would be supportive to our personal and professional growth as mindfulness educators?
The members of the Community Advisory and Action Team then went into smaller groups to work on specific projects to develop elements of the community.
One group began to audit the content in our “Collective Curriculum” – 4 years and hundreds of pages of submissions of lesson extensions and creative activities from our Class of 2014 – 2017 Certification Program grads. We hope to help build out a library of additional activities and resources that align with the Mindful Schools curriculum. We will also be auditing the Resource Center (where we have additional lessons and program support elements), to identify how to refresh our old content, expand the offerings in the Resource Center, and identify areas for needed development.
Reflecting on why she chose to join this project, Gita Nilforoush shared, “auditing the content Mindful Schools has in its vaults is very important for our community. We want to have a creative and usable Resource Center. For instance, I like being able to find new lesson ideas like different games to add to our teaching session to make it more tangible and practical for students, especially for younger kids.” Alexandra Rossi adds, “it’s a great way to stay in touch with new ideas, and a great service for teachers.”
Another project the CAATs are taking on is mapping Common Core and CASEL standards to the Mindful Schools lessons. Fellow CAAT, Melanie Anderson, 3rd Grade Teacher in New York shared, “the educational standards project is important to our community because there is a need to help teachers streamline the process of implementing the Mindful Schools curriculum into their day in a meaningful and effective way. With many teachers already being pulled in a multitude of directions, connecting the standards to our mindfulness curriculum will help teachers maximize their use of time in a most efficient and productive manner, thus enhancing students’ exposure to mindfulness while keeping the standards at the forefront.” We hope our community finds this resource to be of use!
The CAATs are helping to usher the Mindful Schools Community into a new era with more support for practice and teaching, access to relevant resources, and most importantly, access to each other.
We have several other projects we are working on in service of our community, so stay tuned for more updates!