TELLURIDE - The Telluride Mountain School is teaching students to be mindful.
Mountain School counselor Kate Spina, a clinical social worker who trained with the Mindful Schools team in Oakland, Calif., is working with students to focus on the connection between actions and emotions in an effort to help them learn to better manage stress and reach their academic, emotional and intellectual goals.
The Mindful Schools curriculum is broken into 15-minute lessons, an ideal length for integrating into the school day. Students work on breathing, cultivating appreciation and test taking. According to the Mindful Schools’ website, the “simple but powerful technique called mindfulness” can be used “to teach children how to focus, manage their emotions, handle their stress and resolve conflicts.
“Instead of simply telling children to do these things, [the technique shows] children how – through direct experience. It allows children to make wiser decisions in the heat of the moment, rather than only in retrospect.”
By teaching students to respond, rather than react, “We see more harmonious classrooms, enhancing the students ability to learn,” writes Mountain School teacher Emily Shoff. “Kate started her work this fall with Telluride Mountain School’s 5th and 6th graders, and has already seen the students thrive while cultivating these new tools.”
“There is such value in giving students a space to really see the choices they have,” Spina says. “It is a joy to watch them fully embrace and engage in the process.” Spina is fine-tuning her curriculum so that it works at all class levels, and will be integrated into the Telluride Mountain School culture.
Shoff reports that 5th/6th grade homeroom teacher Emily Durkin is impressed by participating students’ changes. “They’re more attentive, and less distracted,” Durkin says. For more information, visit www.mindfulschools.org.