School Wide Implementation of Move Mindfully®

Change is hard. School wide change is… really hard.

It’s been almost a year now since our leadership team started the Yoga Calm® Certification process and dreamed up a school wide Move Mindfully® rollout. We began with an all staff training workshop week and hosted residencies this fall. We started off the year strong with these strategies. However, like it always does, after a hard winter, missed school days and standardized tests looming, we were losing our collective steam. We needed to get reinvigorated. We decided to roll out a school wide initiative called, “Drop Everything and Move!” Here is how we created a school wide intervention and got everyone Moving Mindfully!

Time of Day

We started by working with our behavior interventionist and looking at the data. We identified four times during the school day that student behavior referrals were high. Setting a time in the day can be tricky because no singular time would work for everyone. However, that was the beauty of the plan. Whenever you were (hallway, playground, lunchroom, specialists, etc.) you would literally drop everything and move. The entire week the movement break was at the same time. Then, the following week, we would introduce a new time. By the end of the month, teachers were able to see the intervention work in various times of the day.

Forming New Habits

They say it takes 21 days to create new habits. Our team decided that we would implement this initiative for four weeks. Each week we introduced a new routine based on the Move Mindfully Routines. You could also use the Permission to Pause posters for shorter, 3 movement, routines.

Power of the Loudspeaker

Our principal announced the routine over the loudspeaker. The students were prompted to stand up and join in with the movement. This element was crucial for success, allowing for an atmosphere of school  wide coaching. Adults not yet comfortable with the movement had the pressure of being the leader taken off of their plate. This process allowed staff to begin as observers, participate as comfortable and eventually many were prepared to take on a leadership role with their students at the end of the month.

Positive Reinforcement

To layer on an element of school wide excitement, our PTO provided us with 20 $5 gift cards that would serve as our carrot. Each day, teachers were encouraged to photo document our movement break and post to Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreSkyOaks and #PauseMoveLearn. At the end of the day, everyone who submitted a photo would be entered into a drawing. We announced the winners from the day before right after our movement break.

This served many useful functions. The students were motivated to get up and move so their teacher could capture a winning photograph. Teachers were motivated for the prospect of a Starbucks gift card. Community was built in the building as students cheered for their winning teacher. Also, we were able to communicate to the community and especially our parents, what Move Mindfully looks like in our building. We found that this PR push helped to increase interest in family night and facilitate use of these strategies at home.

Feedback

After our month long implementation, we sent out a feedback survey to staff. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Here are some of the comments.

It’s a great tool for teaching students how to take control of their body and regulate themselves for whatever circumstance they are in.

Enhances overall culture and climate of the building. Provides skills/tools for adults and students to aid in focus, self control/composure, and mindfulness (awareness of self and others).

It has truly become a part of our culture!

Taking movement breaks is a healthy, productive way to refocus myself and my students.

It is hard to only do it in pockets such as special education and some grades. To be most effective it needs to be school wide, so students can learn to use these strategies in the classroom and not have to leave.

I REALLY loved the whole school brain breaks! There was a lot of power in knowing everyone was doing the routines at the same time!

Move Mindfully teaches you to stop and check in with yourself. Often, I don’t think we realize that we don’t stop and breathe. Students and teachers just go, go, and go, and forget to breathe and calm their body and mind.

Check out all of the amazing photographs on our Twitter Feed!

 

 

Have you tried a school wide initiative around mindfulness and movement? What has worked? Leave a comment!

Sarah Singleton

Staff Self Care Challenge

As an educator, it can be easy to forget about self care.

I see my coworkers support our students with all they have to give, day in and day out. It’s just what we do. However, without established and sustainable self-care practices, educators run the risk of health issues, compassion fatigue and burnout, all of which can compromise their ability to continue to provide quality education.

As a school occupational therapist, I am passionate about mindfulness and movement. I work throughout the day to incorporate these skills into my instruction. However, this month, I decided to take the lead with a co-worker and encourage our staff to use these strategies for their own self care. The old adage is true, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”. Here is how I rolled out our Staff Self Care Challenge.

Brainstorm Simple Self Care Strategies

I started by brainstorming simple self care strategies that staff could use. Then, each day staff found notes in their mailboxes encouraging self care moments such as stretches, guided imagery activities, and quick little reminders to stop, breathe, and move mindfully in the moment. I began to notice that staff were taking time for self care, on purpose. Download and print this PDF for our ideas.

teacher wellness

Encourage Participation

It can be challenging to develop new habits. To encourage participation, I built in an incentive plan. Once participants had completed an activity, they would put their name into a drawing. Five winners received a goodie bag from SBell Wellness and a Move Mindfully® Card Deck. Our grand prize winner won a massage; thanks to a generous donation from the community. The prospect of fabulous prizes definitely increased enthusiasm!

wellness prizes

Lasting Changes

Since our mindfulness month, I can still hear teachers and staff chatting about mindfulness and encouraging each other to take these little moments. This fun activity is a simple way to introduce and encourage self care strategies. I notice that we, as a staff, are beginning to, “Pay attention on purpose to the here and now with kindness and curiosity, so we can choose our response.”

What have you tried to promote staff wellness? What’s worked? Leave a comment!

staff wellness winners

“Everything you need, your courage, your strength, compassion, and love; everything you need is already within you.”

Written by,

Shauna Bell, MOT, OTR/L 

shauna bell

Shauna is a school occupational therapist at District 47 in Crystal Lake Il. She is also a Yoga Calm® certified youth yoga instructor, natural solutions educator with  dōTERRA and is currently studying for certification as an Integrative Health Coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  

High School Students and Move Mindfully®

How can all high school students receive mindfulness and movement strategies?

A high school day is busy. Accounting for transition, attendance and directions, each content area teacher does not have much extra time. It is hard to ask one department to carve out time within an already standard packed 55 minute class period.

Morning announcements the are perfect opportunity for daily mindfulness and movement. We use Mindful Mondays within the framework of our school wide announcements. Here are four reasons why morning announcements turned out to be the perfect tier one intervention.

mindfulness in morning announcements

Live Interaction

With live announcements we can see a video feed in real time. Students can interact with the hosts and use the strategies as they are being modeled. We brought in Hoberman Spheres, glitter balls, chimes and anything else we could incorporate into a mindful practice. Our anchors were able to move around and visually demonstrate. Teachers were not responsible for direct teaching. We were also able to standardize our protocol and create a common language around the school wide messaging. 

Hoberman sphere

Student Leaders

If you teach, or know, a high schooler you understand the power of peers. Peer influence can be a force in changing behaviors. In order for the students to buy into mindfulness, we were certain that the teaching needed to be student led. We train our anchors in the new practice for the week and then they share it with the rest of the school.

glitter ball

Strong Beginnings

Dedicating  Monday mornings to mindfulness positively influences the direction of the week. The Move Mindfully® strategies set the tone for the week to be positive and productive. Students are also beginning to transfer these activities to a variety of situations throughout the school day. 

hand tracing

Teacher Wellness

This work not only impacts our student wellness, but our teacher wellness as well. We know that a healthy staff means healthy classrooms. Our Mindful Monday announcements allow for staff to receive the impact of these strategies. They also can implement and reinforce this work in their classes throughout the week. The techniques are also applicable for their own self care. Read my other blog post about getting your staff on board!

teacher wellness

Mindfulness no longer feels like another school initiative. Rather, it is how we collectively start off the week and build resiliency and community. See our highlight reel here.

What strategies do you use to bring mindfulness and movement to a tier one intervention? Have you tried using the platform of morning announcements? Leave a comment!

Written By, Tanya Holub

 

 

 

Hoberman Sphere breathing used with permission from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum

Building Brain Science

When we learn about the brain, we move out of shame.

A great place to begin instruction around mindfulness and movement is by explaining the brain. We like to use the handy model of the brain to describe the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is referenced by Dr. Dan Siegel as the  “downstairs brain” which influences fight, flight or freeze behaviors. As educators, we need to offer “downstairs interventions” for “downstairs behaviors”. While we promote breathing and movement as interventions, music and art can also be effective. This playdough activity not only teaches brain science, but also offers kinesthetic input.

The Power of the Brain

Start by posing the question: “What do your brain and Play-Doh have in common?” Lots of interesting answers will follow, but be sure to highlight and explain: Our brains are shaped by our thoughts. The more good, calm, positive thoughts you have, the better your brain works and your body feels. Worried, stressful, negative thoughts have the opposite effect. The good news is, we have some control over this. (Note: The door is now wide open for discussion of growth mindset and positive self-talk.)

Making Models

Next, pass out the Play-Doh and show a few scientific drawings or images of the brain for inspiration. Plastic utensils, toothpicks or dull, old pencils come in handy while sculpting models of the brain.

Then, have students create models of the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex using different colors. Make it a tech lesson by taking a photo and labeling the diagram! Extend the learning by making a video or writing an informational text on the topic. Check out this video of a student explaining brain function.

Movement

Finally, bring in movement and brain exercises that cross the body’s midline. Use the cards from the Move Mindfully® Card Deck for great visuals!

Star Pose

Start out in Star. From here, lead windmills by bending down, touching one hand to the opposite foot.

Upward Mountain

Start out in Upward Mountain. From here, do cross-body knee taps touching a hand or elbow to the opposite knee.

Figure 8’s 

Draw 8’s in the air with different body parts (finger, elbow, knee…) or pair up for Yoga Calm®’s Back Drawing activity. Try tracing figure 8’s on a partner’s back using each of your hands.

Back-To-Back Partner Pass 

Sit or stand back to back. Choose a not-so-small object (book, ball, lunchbox). Pass it to one another as pictured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class-Pass

Build class community with this one. Have students form a circle and pass a ball around. Start simply, using hands. Then, challenge them to use only pinky fingers or elbows, to close their eyes, or to sit down and use their feet.

Have you taught brain science? What “downstairs interventions” work for you? Leave a comment!

Written By,

Jenny Wood

Jenny Wood has been an elementary school teacher near Athens, Georgia for the past 18 years. She is passionate about promoting mindful life strategies and practices with children and gets plenty of practice with her own two boys.