In 2014, I found myself teaching the gold standard Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course in the library of Wilkins Public School, my son's new school.
She said, "Tienne, would it be possible to put a mindfulness course together for our staff". We sat down together to work out what this would really mean.
There were 3 key things that led to the 6-week x 1.5 hour structure of this course:
- The best evidence-based mindfulness courses are 8-weeks long and participants are asked to do 45-60 minutes of mindfulness practice a day for the duration of the course. The principal was dead certain that we'd lose half the class if we tried to do this. We needed a course with shorter practices that would offer the opportunity for teachers to try this out,
- We looked at the demands of the school term. There is a lot to adjust to at the beginning of each term and report writing and many school events at the end of the term. We needed the course that could start just after the beginning and finish a couple of weeks before the end of the term. We did not want our mindfulness course to be stress producing.
- I also wanted teachers to eventually get PD for their time. After consultation, NESA agreed to approve 9 hours for the standards covered by the course, 6x 1.5 hour classes.
I designed an introductory course that provides an opportunity for teachers to learn some practices, experience some benefits and get a good understanding of how the practices can be integrated into their lives and how this can impact on the classroom. If you are a teacher doing this course you will discover whether you are interested in learning more about mindfulness for yourself and your students
If you are keen to bring mindfulness to your students it can be very tempting to just jump in, There are many off-the-shelf resources around and you might ask, "why do a course when there are manuals/apps available to allow me teach my students?
There are good reasons todo your own training before turning to your students.
- You'll be following best practice. Mindfulness sounds simple but it is harder than it is appears and it is possible to do harm when teaching. Experience it first so that you are teaching from the inside out.
- Research in mindfulness tends to indicate that those who teach from an experience of practice are more effective than those who teach mindfulness as a strategy they have read about.
- Research has shown that when teachers settle in the classroom so do their students. Does this bear out for you? What state are you in when you teach your best classes? Being a teacher is a stressful job and it is worth finding ways to care for yourself first. This will flow on to your students - so start with yourself.
After the course some teachers book into the more intensive Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course and others go on to do educator specific training, keen to teach mindfulness to their students. We can guide you through all of these optons. You'd also be welcome to join our monthly mindfulness practices or even perhaps a quarterly "Day of Mindfulness" on a Sunday.