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.
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.
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!