Mindfulness Newsletter

February 2018--#mindfulAISD

In This Month's Newsletter...

  • FREE Community License Opportunity from Inner Explorer
  • AISD Employee Well-Being Classes
  • 1st Annual AISD Mindfulness Retreat!
  • 7 Tips for Sustained Mindfulness in Class
  • Mindfulness Room Starter Kits
  • HCP Spring Mindfulness Courses in Session
  • Social & Emotional Learning Newsletter
  • Mindful Happenings in AISD


Reminder: For more regular mindfulness updates, please follow me on Twitter, @mrbutler629. I post regularly, providing tips and highlighting mindfulness happening across the district. Also, feel free to use #mindfulAISD when posting about mindfulness.

FREE Community Licenses from Inner Explorer ($10,000 Gifted by LG!)

LG Electronics, through a grant, is gifting the Inner Explorer Mindfulness Program (Community License) to 10 Austin ISD schools! This $10,000 gift (!!!) is to promote health, wellbeing and academic excellence for our students and educators. Inner Explorer is a web-based (site & app) mindfulness program for PK-12th grade. It's very easy to use and only requires pushing the play button, which can allow teachers to practice with their students. Daily sessions range from 5-10 minutes and transition sessions are 1-3 minutes in length. Sessions are in English & Spanish for Elementary. Additionally, the Community License allows for parents & families to participate as well!


Here is some information from Inner Explorer about the program and how it's used. If your school is interested, there is an application below...


This easy to implement program, used by more than 1100 schools, fosters "Readiness to Learn" as students and teachers join together in the daily 5-10 minute audio-guided practices that have been shown to help participants:

  • Manage and reduce stress
  • Regulate emotions and behavior
  • Inhibit impulsivity and attend to classroom instruction
  • Experience a greater sense of compassion for self and others

Results from three controlled research trials showed:

  • Students achieved 7-15% higher GPA's overall
  • Students achieved 10-28% higher grades in reading, math and science
  • Students had 60% fewer discipline problems
  • Teachers experienced a 43% reduction in stress and reported a greater sense of efficacy
  • Teachers gain back the 10+ minutes of teaching time each day because there are fewer interruptions and redirects.


Using Inner Explorer in Class:
  • Teachers volunteer to participate, it's not required.
  • Participate in brief training: Review a 20-minute training sequence and begin!
  • Press "Play" every day (or most days): visit www.InnerExplorer.org, log in with credentials and listen to one of the 90 guided practices (in sequence) each day.
  • Invite Parent/Caregiver: upload list of emails/cell phones, parents can "opt in and will automatically be sent a link with the same practice you do in class, AND can have their own log in so they can listen to any of the programs (including PreK-K, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, Adult practices, and Spanish Language series)
  • NO PREP, NO PLANNING- Teachers and students listen together, both benefit!
  • Integrate into the school day: 5-10 minute practices that can be incorporated into normal transition times, advisory, etc
  • Witness the transformation: students will learn to regulate their emotions, will be clearer in their thinking and will be less likely to create conflict.


Interested?! Apply to have your school get a free one year community license. The deadline is Friday, February 16th. One application per school, please. We plan to launch all 10 schools this month so that we can assess the impact through the end of the school year. The community license will run until February 2019 so we'll be able to assess the impact for a majority of next school year too. Please complete the application (link below) if you're interested!

AISD Employee Well-Being Classes

From Melody Carlton, AISD's Employee Assistance & Wellness Coordinator


The revive wellbeing classes are another way AISD employees can earn wellness points to receive the $100 Wellness Premium Credit. Each class is worth 10 Wellness points. Each class will be offered two times for it’s month, but employees only need to attend one session to earn those 10 points.


These classes are non-fitness related & instead focus on your social, emotional and mental wellbeing with tips to help you work self-care into your daily routines. Employees wishing to attend a class must RSVP as spaces are limited. Employees who RSVP and then no-show to a class will not be able to rsvp for future classes. RSVP online at www.austinisd.org/wellness/events or by phone at (512) 414-2282.


*The photos below are screenshots, so the links won't work. Use the link above to RSVP.

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1st Annual AISD Mindfulness Retreat!

On Saturday, April 14th from 9am-1pm at Baker Center, we will have our 1st Annual AISD Mindfulness Retreat. It's in the very early stages of planning right now, but we're working with Amala Foundation and other mindfulness-related business/organizations to provide FREE classes for AISD staff members. Tentative plans are to have four 45-minute blocks of time to offer classes such as: yoga, meditation, dancing, art, drumming, mindfulness workshops, etc. More details to come!


We chose to host this at Baker, in part, as a way to pay homage to a historic building that has served the AISD community for so long.


If you're interested, you can register on HCP (Section #86961). Due to space, we only have 250 spots available so sign up soon to commit to a morning of self-care on Saturday, April 14th from 9am-1pm.

7 Tips for Sustained Mindfulness in Class

Struggling with mindfulness practice in your class? Here are 7 simple tips for sustained mindfulness practice in class...
  1. Personal Practice: Encouraging teachers to have a personal mindfulness practice is probably the most important tip I can provide. All I recommend is 5 minutes a day and work it into some part of your daily routine (while coffee or tea is being made, before you go to sleep, etc.). If you don't have the Calm app, I recommend it because they're giving teachers a FREE lifetime subscription.
  2. The Brain: Teach your students how mindfulness benefits their brain. Review this fairly consistently. Here is a short YouTube video that explains how mindfulness benefits the brain if you want to share that with your students.
  3. Consistent Practice in Class: Around the same time every day for 1-5 minutes is incredibly helpful with getting students comfortable with practicing.
  4. Student Arrangement to Practice: It helps a lot when all the students are facing one direction, that way they're not as tempted to look around at each other which can lead to distraction.
  5. Student Leadership: Allowing the students to lead a practice or choose the mindfulness practice from a site or app (MindYeti, Calm, GoNoodle, etc.) can be incredibly empowering, especially for the students who may be struggling with it.
  6. Choice: Mindfulness should never be forced onto anyone, but clear expectations should be set for the time allotted in class to practice. If students don't want to practice with the class, give them a choice of: coloring a mandala, reading a book, writing/drawing in a journal. All of those options are practices of being in the moment (aka mindfulness).
  7. Patience & Compassion: Learning how to practice mindfulness is journey. I've been practicing for 8 years and I'm still learning. Be compassionate with yourself and with your students. The fact that you're even trying this shows that you care about your students' well-being. Kudos for that!

Mindfulness Room Starter Kits

The Social & Emotional Learning Department was able to purchase 20 Mindfulness Room Starter Kits for schools who have a space, or are creating a space dedicated to mindfulness in their school. The kits include...


  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Mini Hoberman sphere
  • Growing Mindful deck of mindfulness cards
  • Oil diffuser
  • Calming Lavender oil


The goal of Mindfulness Rooms is to help deepen the mindfulness already existing on campuses, rather than to help start the movement. For sustainability purposes, there has to be some type of campus buy-in to mindfulness in order for the Mindfulness Room to not turn into a storage space in a couple years. :)


If your school is interested in acquiring one of the kits, please fill out this application.

Below are details for HCP Mindfulness Courses this Spring. All the Fall courses filled up pretty quickly, so sign up as soon as you can if you're interested. SEL will pay for teacher subs.


*To answer several questions about the HCP courses...

  • My goal is to offer the Mindful Leaders course next Fall as well so if you haven't taken an Intro course, you can take it this Spring.
  • The Intro course is required for the Leader course even if you're already practicing in class or on your own. The foundation for the Leader course, including how mindfulness is being taught in AISD, will be set in the Intro course. It's also a great way to build community and learn from fellow educators. I've learned so much in each course!

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Social & Emotional Learning: Relationship Building

The Social & Emotional Learning monthly concept is "Relationship Building." This month's SEL Newsletter will be added soon. Check back in a couple days.

Mindfulness in Austin ISD

Here are a few mindfulness highlights from across the district.

Alternative Learning Center

Last week, I was fortunate to spend 3 hours sharing mindfulness w students at ALC. I want everyone to know what amazing young people are at ALC. Let me repeat, Amazing Young People. They need support & understanding & they deserve it.


See tweet, like & retweet to spread this important message.

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Mind Yeti at Casey Elementary

From Ms. Beasley, 4th grade teacher at Casey: "We have been using @MindYeti the past week to build our #mindfulness practice in the classroom. In only 5 days I already see a big difference in willingness to try something new (and maybe a little weird )." See tweet for video.
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Kealing Counselor's Office

From Meagan Butler, Secondary Counseling Coordinator: "Roxane Lopez showed me an interesting mindfulness activity today in her counseling office! She's an #AISDStarCounselor." See tweet.
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Mindfulness for Student-Athletes

We started a 4-week mindfulness for student-athlete program at Lanier last week. Each week, we'll focus on a different type of awareness: body, surroundings, thoughts & feelings. See tweet from Lanier AD, Jacob Anderson.
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Family Mindfulness--Blackshear, Ann Richards & Clayton

Including families in mindfulness is a great way to get buy-in and build mindfulness into your campus climate & culture. Check out photos & tweets about mindfulness happening with families at Blackshear, Ann Richards & Clayton. Way to go, y'all!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Mindful Classrooms: The Educator Guide

For those using Mindful Classrooms: The Educator Guide, I recommend using Week 23-26 during February. This is a flexible recommendation though. Use what works best for you and your class. AISD staff can sign up for a free electronic copy of the book in the support form at the bottom of this newsletter.

#mindfulAISD archives

January 2018 Newsletter (Videos, Mindfulness Room Starter Kit, Types of Awareness)

December 2017 Newsletter (Videos, Research Supporting Mindfulness, Picture Books)

November 2017 Newsletter (Free Retreats, Class Dojo, Teens, Mindful AISD in the News)

October 2017 Newsletter (Videos, Meditation Bar Gift, Mindfulness Challenge)

September 2017 Newsletter (Mindfulness Videos)

August 2017 Newsletter (Starting mindfulness from Day 1)

2016-2017 Newsletters (One link to access all newsletters from last school year.)

Sign Up for Mindfulness Support

If you haven't filled out the #mindfulAISD Google Form (below) and want to highlight your work and/or receive mindfulness support, please check it out. It only takes a moment to complete. Know someone in AISD interested in mindfulness? Send them this newsletter for them to fill out the Google Form.

Contact

James Butler

SEL Mindfulness Specialist


james.butler@austinisd.org