This popular graphic pops up on the Internet almost daily attached to some social media post. Although aimed at adults, the concept of the “stuffed brain” is even more present for children. Tracey Godin, MC Baker, Sandi Simmons, and Amy MacBeth, educators at Fletcher Elementary School, wanted to use the unique Launch FWSU opportunity to secure funding for mindfulness in FES classrooms. As part of the Launch FWSU innovation competition, all teachers could pitch proposals for $1,000 mini-grants. These teachers crafted a proposal to “address the stress” in students using mindfulness activities in the classroom.
Here’s how they saw the issue: “The problem/need that we are targeting is increasing students’ sustained attention, focus, and participation. In a world of growing technology, our students are conditioned to constantly be doing more than one thing at a time. They can listen to music, text a friend, watch TV and do their homework simultaneously. Our multi-tasking culture is only going to grow as our technology grows. Therefore, our students’ brains are not being wired to be able to completely focus their attention on any one thing at any particular time. Unfortunately, this skill is being lost and often to the detriment of one’s sense of well-being, ability to learn and to manage stress. For these reasons, more and more people are turning to being mindful as a healthy way to handle living in our fast-paced, fractured culture. Mindfulness is simply the ability to focus on one thing during any present moment. More and more scientific research is showing the physical benefits to our brains and bodies when we practice mindfulness.”
“More and more” may be an understatement. A recent article featured on the online education blog Edutopia, entitled Mindfulness is All the Rage–But Does it Work? looked at some of the current research on the effects of mindfulness activities on students. The article cites research that suggests students who participated in mindfulness activities for a specified duration of time had less stress, better behavior, and higher levels of well-being than their peers who did not participate in such activities. The article further notes that academic achievement receives a boost when students have the skills to self-regulate and stay focused.
One of the most accessible and popular mindfulness activities is yoga. Yoga4Classrooms reports that “Research on yoga in schools has grown exponentially over the past 5-10 years, and while the results are still preliminary, scientists are beginning to understand why yoga serves as such a valuable component of school curricula nationwide.” The team at FES proposed piloting yoga as a vehicle for teaching mindfulness in the fourth grade and was awarded funding through the Launch mini-grant to support this work.
The pilot is well underway and we are looking forward to learning more about mindfulness in FES classrooms as the year progresses and the grant proposal is fully implemented. For now, you can take a glimpse into the work via fourth-grade teacher Tracey Godin’s newsletter.