Nurturing Change From Within – Mindful Schools
Our ongoing journey to live into our values and commitment to equity in education.
Mindful Schools has been evolving and learning as an organization since we began bringing mindfulness into schools in Oakland, California, in 2007. Building on our early success in scaling our model to serve a network of more than 60,000 educators, we are now taking bold steps towards our vision: for all children to learn in “mindful schools” that nurture a new generation of leaders to create a more equitable and thriving world.
Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges that require us to double down on integrity and intentionality as we work to cultivate awareness, resilience, and compassion in supporting our most vulnerable communities. As educators and families start the new school year against a backdrop of a global pandemic, extended economic uncertainty, and persistent calls for racial justice, the need for grounded leadership and social-emotional well-being in schools has never been greater.
On a daily basis, Mindful Schools is in conversation with educators from across the country who are fighting to serve their students, many of whom are experiencing increased trauma and isolation. At the same time, they must also maintain their own mental health, as they juggle competing demands in an uncertain climate.
In parallel, Mindful Schools is reaching an important milestone in our effort to deepen the support we provide to our educators, students, and schools. Our hope is that these key shifts can help cultivate joyful and just school communities—and develop our own capacity to learn and serve—no matter what the future holds.
Committed to justice, experienced in education, grounded in mindfulness.
Mindful Schools formally welcomes our Executive Director, Seewan Eng, who joined the organization in January 2020 in an interim capacity and stepped into her current role in April 2020. Seewan is deeply committed to our “by educators, for educators” approach, and draws from a decade of experience with K-12 classroom teaching. She also has over twelve years of experience leading professional learning and systems and culture change in organizations focused on educational equity.
Our executive team and board represent a diverse set of experiences in K-12 education and mindfulness practice. We are united in our commitment to integrate mindfulness into schools as a powerful way to leverage the strengths and values of communities as they work to dismantle systemic racism and educational inequities.
“This is a clear moment for mindfulness in education,” said Anu Cairo, Mindful Schools Board Chair. “Conversations about our racial history and systemic inequities are happening in classrooms and communities across the country. We need an approach that prioritizes deeper awareness and empathy. Our team is poised to support this hard work with humility and compassion.”
Enhancing each step of our training path to provide responsive support and greater impact.
In 2018, Mindful Schools launched a schoolwide mindfulness program for five under-resourced schools in California’s Bay Area. Our intention was to support the social and emotional needs of our “partner schools” and codify an approach to share in our training for educators, empowering leaders to create positive, systemic change in their own communities.
Building on this experience, and the collective expertise of our team implementing mindfulness in schools across the country, we developed guiding principles for our programs aligned to our mission, vision and core values. The resulting “Mindful Schools Way” is our north star as we work to update existing offerings and create new programs for the community. Recent progress in this work includes:
- 101: Mindfulness Foundations: This new four-week course introduces participants to the “Mindful Schools Way” of integrating mindfulness into their daily lives with intention and embodiment. Educators explore issues of identity and implicit bias, and develop tools for emotional regulation and self-care.
- 201: Mindfulness in the Classroom: Our new eight-week course with updated curriculum takes a deep dive into embodied, mindful teaching; introduces trauma-informed practices; and is responsive to current challenges facing students and educators.
- The Schoolwide Mindfulness Rubric: A helpful tool to help schools take stock of their existing mindfulness initiatives and determine which steps are needed to develop a program for their unique goals and context.
- The Mindful Schools Podcast: Led by our team of mindful educators and created to support teachers during this period of uncertainty, the podcast provides inspiration, resources, and conversation to help listeners access their personal and professional potential.
Widening access to our programs, embarking on an internal learning journey.
- Internal Learning Journey: Our commitment to social justice and racial equality starts with us. Mindful School’s board and executive team is working to address how white supremacy culture plays out in our work environments, policies, and structures. Our team is on an internal learning journey, using mindfulness practices to unearth biases, nurture awareness and develop compassion for personal change. This inside out work is essential as we advocate to dismantle discriminatory and racist structures inside education systems.
- Widening Access: We are offering our new 101: Mindfulness Foundations course to everyone at a significantly lower rate (reduced from $195 to $65) to encourage greater community participation at a time when mindfulness is needed most.
- Equity in Action Scholarship Fund: We are actively fundraising to provide under-resourced and under-represented educators with the opportunity to experience our two intensive leadership programs, the Mindful Teacher and the Schoolwide Implementation Program. Make a gift today.
We are hosting an online Open House after our LIVE Practice (Mindful Schools’ monthly guided mindfulness practice). This will be an opportunity to meet members of our team and learn about how these changes can support you during this school year.
Sign up here to receive call-in instructions. We look forward to partnering with you in this important work.