Ecker Hill Middle School has some of its teachers and counselors learning the fundamentals of mindful learning in hopes of improving student behavior and providing more peaceful classrooms.
Mindful learning includes exercises to reduce stress and improve impulse control, attention span, emotion regulations, classroom management, and empathy. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Thanks to a grant from the Park City Education Foundation, Randi Jo Taurel and Rebecca Brenner will educate 12 teachers and three counselors about mindfulness, who in turn will teach the techniques to their students.
“We teach simple tools that can help adults and children with self regulation, calming themselves, being more present, and being more kind,” said Taurel.
Teachers begin with two, six-week online courses. The first course is an introduction to developing a personal mindfulness practice. The second course provides curriculum and practical skills to introduce mindfulness into their classrooms.
Taurel and Brenner then work with teachers to incorporate these practices into the classrooms. “We practice mindfulness with the teachers and curriculum build with them twice a month. From the teacher’s practices with us and their online training, they weave mindfulness techniques into their curriculum and classrooms,” said Brenner.
Taurel has taught mindfulness to children as early as age three. “I believe this will provide students with tools in their toolkit that they can pull out anytime they need them.”
Anyone wanting to learn the mindfulness techniques is invited to attend a Lunch & Learn at Park City School District office on Wednesday, Nov. 1, from noon to 1 p.m. Taurel and Brenner will also be doing a four-week class for parents and middle school students at the LiVe Well Center Oct. 4, 21, and Nov. 4-18 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Eventually, Taurel and Brenner want to roll out this program to every teacher in the district in the next three to five years. “This program was first done in Davis School District and they had incredible success with it,” Taurel said. “By teaching kids at a young age, they have the tools to use at home with their family, when taking a test, or doing homework.”
Brenner said the teachers and counselors at Ecker Hill have been so receptive and enthusiastic. “I truly look forward to seeing how they bring mindfulness techniques into their classrooms and the inevitable benefits for them and their students.”
For more information visit mindfulschools.org/learn.
Randi Jo Taurel has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to adults, children,and families since 1999. She is certified to teach yoga through Yoga Works, City Yoga (Anusara) and Yoginos; Yoga for Youth. She was voted one of the top yoga teachers in Park City for the past four years (The Park Record), 2013 Woman of the Year (PC Women’s Business Network) and a member of Park City Leadership (class 21). She was recently awarded grants to teach mindfulness at Trailside Elementary School, Ecker Hill Middle School and Weilenmann School of Discovery.
Rebecca Brenner is a mindfulness meditation teacher, speaker, and practitioner. Her studies have led her through a BFA and MA in movement and expression, trainings in somatic therapy, certifications in yoga through the Himalayan Institute and the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, short stints at yoga ashrams and weekly sits with her mindfulness teacher Lama Richard Glade. She is trained in the Mindful School‘s curriculum and teaches mindfulness through her private practice Park City Holistic Health, the Live Well Center at the Park City Hospital, and the Park City School District. She is the author of The Kid’s User Guide to a Human Life – a best-selling indie mindfulness series and online community for children (and inner kids).