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November 20, 2017

Étude High Brings Mindfulness to Longfellow's PBIS

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Students need to feel safe when they come to school. They need to have tools to help them overcome frustrations. At Étude High School, we emphasize the building strong relationships with peers and advisors, we intentionally develop Habits of Mind through academic experiences, and we provide opportunities to practice mindfulness by offering yoga and QiGong. If trust or relationships are broken, we use Restorative Practices to rebuild our community. We are fortunate to have movement classes where students can also participate in an in-depth study of mindfulness and yoga, with a trained instructor in our teacher Molly King. 

Each year, King offers a Yoga I seminar for beginners in the fall and a Yoga II seminar for advanced practice in the spring. Students in both classes apply their learning by creating yoga practices for specific populations. Yoga II students always share their practices with friends at Longfellow in the spring. 

Longfellow's behavior coach, Amy Verhagen, wanted to implement some mindfulness practices in the beginning of the year hoping to make a positive impact on behaviors and learning right away. Instead of waiting for the Yoga II class, King worked with beginning Yoga I students to bring six different mindfulness practices to the Kindergarten through 3rd graders at Longfellow.  

1 - Mindfulness in Yourself -- self-awareness without judgement, observations only
2 - Mindful Buddies -- painting a rock, drawing a happy place, or creating a glitter jar to assist in those moments of frustration... used to calm
3 - Mindful Breathing -- finding time to take deep breaths and understanding the importance to slow down
4 - Encouraging Mindfulness in Others -- taking time to think about the impact mindfulness can have when you help those around you be more observant
5 - Yoga Postures -- teaching calming poses...teaching poses that energize
6 - Movement Breaks -- learning the best practices to release built up energy in a structured way (like WOMMP, Sweet Sixteens, Chair Stretches, etc.)

As Étude Yoga students reflected on the experience they shared growth in areas ranging from lesson planning, speaking in front of a group, and the transformative power of mindfulness for young people. Cassie Grande noted that "teaching anything is so enjoyable, watching someone that doesn't have the knowledge of something and then they have the time to value something that you've been teaching." Sammy Miller shared that she was specifically impressed when "a student was excited to show how he was using [a stuffed] animal to breathe. It showed that he was using mindfulness and I could see that he was wanting to be apart of the group more and more." 

Verhagen is hoping these practices will bring more positivity to the students at Longfellow. She thanked the Étude students personally, and shared her appreciation for how well they interacted with the Longfellow students. Étude senior, Isabel Cerda was grateful for that feedback, because "[it] made me so happy to know we are actually doing something positive for these kids and how important mindfulness is as well." 

King looks forward to bringing Yoga II students back to check in on the Longfellow students' progress in the spring.

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