Mindful Cities

Building a Mindful Boston – Mindful Cities

BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS & THE CITY OF BOSTON

Boston Public Schools in partnership with Ivy Child International, and the City of Boston has developed a “Heal the Healer” training program for city educators and other caregivers to learn mindfulness techniques. The goal is to foster a system-wide blossoming of culturally and linguistically responsive self-care in schools and in partnership with other city agencies. IvyChild and BPS:

  • Build on the Boston area landscape of mindfulness practices that are part of institutional wellness and self-care efforts.
  • Create student-led pop-ups with other agencies (e.g., police and firefighters) for the purpose of building awareness of mindfulness.
  • Serve all of BPS through a range of Professional Development offerings including student-led mindfulness moments
  • Explore BPS working with select Boston corporate partners on awareness, recognition, and adoption of mindfulness practices centering BPS students as leaders of periodic, regular virtual mindful moments.

Building Awareness for the Project:

Mindful moment pop up demonstrations across the city- led by BPS students demonstrating mindfulness strategies such as Bumble Bee Breathing – builds awareness, enthusiasm, and momentum for the Heal the Healers Project.

Why Mindfulness?

The Problem: For many Boston Public Schools students, the classrooms and the educators who lead them are the only places and sources of consistent emotional support in their daily lives. Increasingly our students are experiencing the symptoms of stress and anxiety, and by the time they reach high school, 74% of students nationally are reporting more than one of these negative outcomes each month (APA 2014). Naturally, the social and emotional competencies of our educators and other caregivers in the community impact their ability to support our students. Unfortunately, our educators are increasingly facing their own social and emotional challenges, with 73% nationally reporting they often find work stressful (AFT 2015).

These issues are by no means restricted to the teachers in our students lives, as health and human services workers (NASW 2008) and other adults responsible for our children’s health and safety are working in equally stressful and taxing environments.

Why Mindfulness?

The Solution: In order to best serve students and the community, BPS must “Heal the Healers,” providing our educators with the tools, techniques and strategies for promoting the SEL competencies of Self Awareness, Self Management, Decision Making and Social Relations in themselves and their students. Mindfulness practices have been shown to positively impact personal wellness, offering participants of all ages a sustainable way to recognize and manage their stressors, make decisions reflectively rather than reactively, and foster compassion for themselves and others. Ivy Child International’s CARES model provides holistic support for: Caring relationships, Activities and Exercise, Rest and Recharging, Eating and Drinking well, and Safe and Sanitary choices. Once implemented, Ivy Child’s full system-wide program for BPS will be a resource that can engage faculty, staff, and students in the cultivation of mindfulness practices that can also be embedded within the school culture. By partnering with other Boston agencies ranging from Law Enforcement to Public Safety and Health and Human Services, BPS and Ivy Child International will expand this work beyond the classroom to support a Mindful Boston and the many other “Healers” that support our students.

Impact:

Working with BPS leadership and utilizing a train-the-trainer approach, Ivy Child will pilot Professional Learning Communities in the Central Office among staff that are the “front line of the front line” and with faculty and staff on school campuses. These respective Learning Communities will be the foundation for learning about the effectiveness and principles of mindfulness and compassion as well as for the adoption of an array of mindfulness practices. In the classroom, teachers and learners alike will see that mindfulness practices slow learners and teachers down, enhances focus, and supports metacognition and executive function. With regular and sustained mindfulness practices, everyone in the classroom, other BP workplaces, and in the broader community will take time to reflect on, notice, appreciate and intentionally plan for the Social, Emotional and Academic learning that is naturally taking place when we support children. This work will reduce measurable levels of stress and related negative outcomes amongst our educators and other “Healers” in the community, and most importantly amongst our students, improving classroom learning and strengthening relationships within our Boston communities.

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