We’ve been getting up very early the past week, bringing Mindfulness to Educators through the CALM program being implemented in the Red Clay School District in Wilmington, DE. The teachers at Highlands Elementary, one of four schools offering CALM, begin their day by taking care of themselves, bringing awareness to their own needs, so that they can face the challenging task of inspiring their students on a daily basis.
CALM (Community Approach to Learning Mindfully) aims to boost educators’ focus, energy, stress-management, and well-being during the workday and beyond. The seventeen-week program builds on themes we learned in our mindfulness training at the Penn Program for Mindfulness, centered on the principles of breath and awareness established by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Each twenty-minute CALM session provides:
- Breathing practices
- Gentle yoga stretches and movement exercises
- Mindful awareness practices
- Setting intentions for the school day
Brian and I were lucky to be chosen to train for this program as substitutes, and over the course of our week of subbing at 7:55am every morning, we witnessed firsthand how the curriculum achieves it’s promise to enhance awareness for teachers.
One of our students, the art teacher named Eugene, was particularly receptive to the posture, breath, and movement exercises, and shared his experience as a teacher there. “You have to be 100% present, 100% of the time. Otherwise the sharks will eat you!” Humor aside, it’s clear that Eugene has a very caring approach to teaching and, like most teachers, provides not only instructional but emotional support to his elementary school students. After one particularly exhausting day for Eugene, where he felt he didn’t perform up to his own expectations, we worked on Breath of Joy, which aims to build energy, support the mind-body-breath connection, and perhaps even bring a little smile to the day.
Following our session, in the remaining minute he had before class, Eugene shared a new perspective with us.
After seeing the transformation of Eugene’s energy from sluggish and distracted to calm and alert, we can’t wait to bring more mindfulness to educators and caregivers. We believe, as evidence supports, that teachers are most effective in the classroom when they are healthy, focused, and emotionally balanced. We love the idea of supporting the well-being of those who are central to the well-being of our communities! Thank you to all the teachers out there making a huge difference in our kids’ lives.