Just 1 Question: 'Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids'

Just 1 Question: 'Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids'

A local nonprofit is helping bring meditation and mindfulness practices to Champaign-Urbana classrooms.

Last September, The Mindful Teacher Foundation launched its "Mindful Teacher, Mindful Kids" professional development program for area educators.

About two dozen teachers, counselors and social workers participated, learning the art of different meditations — like the three-minute breathing space, which helps keep calm in the classroom — and later explored how to teach these skills to students. It hopes to continue the program this fall.

Nicole Lafond asked past participants: What does mindfulness mean to you?

JANE KUPPLER
Champaign Central High School special-education teacher

"Mindfulness training has been a real gift. I've learned to enjoy life, teaching and relationships in the present moment with kindness and curiosity."

JUDY PECE
Urbana Middle School social-studies teacher

"Mindfulness, to me, means living in the present. I've learned that I can take brief moments to be fully aware of my reactions to everything that is happening in my classroom. Once I've relaxed my shoulders, I can proceed much more calmly. I've also been amazed at the revelations some of my students have had after brief meditations in homeroom."

KRISTIN MONAHAN
Franklin Middle School counselor

"Many of our students have so much stress in their lives. Mindfulness is a coping skill that any student can learn. Mindfulness to me is taking a moment or several minutes to focus on your breath, body and thoughts with care and kindness. Sounds easy, but mindfulness truly takes practice."

CHRISTINE CAHILL
Carrie Busey Elementary School librarian

"Mindfulness practice, which I define as taking the time to find the 'still, quiet place' within each of us, actually leads to changes in the brain which regulate the control of our focus and emotions. Research has shown that mindfulness practitioners can become less susceptible to distractions and better at regulating our emotions.

"I found this to be true. Something as simple as taking a few deep breaths when faced with a stressor can allow our body and mind to slow down and think about our response before we act."

MARY MALLOY
Unit 4 high schools German teacher

"I learned how to incorporate mindfulness into the high school content, like my field of foreign language, where the most studied phenomenon is learner anxiety. While there is no substitute for action to improve the conditions that affect teaching and learning, nevertheless mindfulness for me is a practical companion approach."

CINDY SIKES
Urbana Middle School guidance counselor

"Mindfulness to me is about trying to embrace and live in the moment, which is a simple concept, but turns out to be difficult to put into practice consistently."

MINDY MANOLAKES
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School kindergarten teacher

"I've been practicing mindfulness with my kindergarten class for three years and have seen amazing things with my 5- and 6-year-olds. They exhibit self-control and self-regulation, compassion and empathy, as well as kindness — such kindness toward me and each other, as well as staff and kids throughout the school. They are learning lifetime skills through mindfulness that will change the world.

"I'm aware of the weight of this. It's no little feat, folks."

Have a question you'd like us to ask? Our inbox is open — send an email to nlafond@news-gazette.com.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):Education
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