This is an example of your amygdala. When it’s fired up, it looks like this. Children as young as five are learning how
their brain works when they are upset, and what they can do to regulate their emotions. Then when you breathe. When everything comes down, that’s when your breathing is done. That’s when you are calm again. It’s called mindfulness, and it means to
become aware of your emotional state at the present moment. Four years ago, Educational Service District
112 launched Empowering P3, a research project to study how younger students and their teachers
could learn how to regulate their emotions and stress through mindfulness training. Burton and Image Elementary were to be the
test schools for the pilot program because they knew they needed help. Teachers were stressed. There still was a high anxiety level in the
staff and in students. But could meditation and mindfulness work? I was skeptical because I wasn’t sure
how hyper little kids would actually be able to calm themselves down. I think about the older children, would
they really see value in this, would they joke about it? From the teacher’s perspective, would the teachers buy into this? School staff and teachers know that if children
are stressed because of problems at home, it follows them to the classroom and then
their ability to learn suffers. Kids come to us with so many stressors
in their lives, and really no way to channel that, so using mindfulness, and some curriculum around mindfulness, we were able
to really help children name the emotion they were feeling. It’s helpful for me because it really
calms me down because I’m really hyper. The day to day busyness never goes away
but what can happen with mindfulness, is you can put a space in between the busyness and
in between your response or next steps to take a few moments to quiet down, to breathe
in deep, to just focus on the breathing. Three times a day students in Jennifer McCoy’s
class, practice a mindfulness activity called Chime tIme. Right now, I want you to check in with
your body, be in a comfortable position. Children are asked to focus on the sound of
a chime. Here we go. Teachers took part in their own 8-week mindfulness
program prior to bringing mindfulness into the classroom.
But could it work in the classroom? I was really amazed by what I saw. Even my most hyper kids given practice time
were able to calm down significantly more than they could before. I would definitely recommend it. In our school, things look and sound very
different now. When you walk in to a classroom or walk down
the hall, the word mindful comes up often. Alright, boys and girls now that we did
our breathing we are going to be ready for the outside hallway and you’re going to
be ready to be mindful at recess. Creating a culture of mindfulness doesn’t
only work on students but staff and teachers as well. Research shows that teachers’ stress levels
decreased when they practiced mindfulness. That was a big ah-ha, not just for me. It helped me in my personal life, it helped
me in the classroom to understand my kids. But once they saw how it helped themselves,
when they were going through the mindful activities on their own, just to calm themselves down,
they saw this is really going to work. This has helped me, it’s got to help my kids. Mindfulness training is a school-wide approach
creating compassionate communities of learning. Administrator and principal support is key. It is really important for the leadership
at any one of the schools to be onboard. The district from the staff in the classrooms,
up to the cabinet level, is the direction we want to go. When you care for others, you’re showing
that you’re mindful and when you are mindful, you are calm. As a teacher having this, really helps me
able to reset every day. That’s the most important thing. Mindfulness is one of the most effective strategies
that we can teach our children.