Why Does Online Learning Keep Popping Up On My Browswer

Once I set my mind to something, I’m not going to give up. (This is why I’m late for work, by the way!

Why Does Online Learning Keep Popping Up On My Browswer?

I’ve been engaged in and study the theory and practice of mindfulness as a faculty member and an undergraduate within the Center for Emotional Intelligence (CEE) since 2008. I’ve used Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and other tools to help students evaluate and examine the chronic stressors and a host of internal and external factors that contribute to mental illness and addiction.

In 2017, I participated in a workshop with faculty and faculty/staff from Israeli Education for Teacher Leadership (EdTFL) which is a new initiative of the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture. CEE faculty members and I went to Israel on a mini-study tour of east Jerusalem and to meet with high school and adult students in Talmud class in Hebrew School. The study tour was in close proximity to the separable police/security check points between east and west Jerusalem. Our day included a series of focused sessions on Inner/Intellectual Development (IID), Decision-Making and Practice-Making.

Interestingly, the professors and practitioners who led these classes brought the same mindfulness and MBCT tools with them that they will bring with them to their Israeli classrooms in January 2019. In reality, they are teaching middle school mathematics to 11th graders and kindergarteners with teachers and research assistant who arrived from the right background. Ironic since the teachers’ husbands or wives use MBCT at home.

The teachers also participated in a whole group session of restorative and therapeutic practices that I facilitated during break time. Classes on this trip were not only trauma-informed, but mindfulness-informed. We started our day with the rational and intentional practice of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). We then moved on to reflective exercises during group discussion, accompanied by games and guided narratives.

The teachers were very excited and ready to take the MBCT sessions to teachers, principals, and professors. They created an interactive MBCT dynamic with social interaction and experiential play to teach each other, address common fears, experiences, and daily habits.

If I had to guess what some of the key components are, I would say that one of the key components is: sharing, solving and caring for each other. The teachers received private or close, secret consultations from me about their selves, teachers and classrooms. Their conversations with me inspired them to more effectively understand and address the stressors and barriers that impede their classrooms in a world that is immersed in non-evidence-based conflict and authoritarian constraints.

After the MBCT workshops, teachers took the combined mindfulness and MBCT practices home to implement in their classrooms. I had the privilege of participating in the peer review and co-facilitations and I have heard the teachers report that the practice added value to their instruction.

Despite the structure of the classes, we never imposed a mindfulness/MBCT pedagogy on the students. Every instructor gave them direction and a theory of mindfulness, but it was up to the teachers to nurture that theory and create a personal practice outside of the classroom that they could incorporate into the classroom. Teachers in each classroom of Talmud and English classes benefitted from the MBCT/mindfulness intervention method.

When we met on the day of our tour with those teachers, they were pleasantly surprised about the effects of mindfulness on their classroom. They were positively surprised about how it helped them to make change in their classrooms and in their own lives. From my experience, one must listen to teachers in search of issues. They may, in fact, be the best practitioners of MBCT in their own minds and bodies!

They were struck by how the new teachers learned to embrace their work and to learn how to teach students about critical thinking, mindfulness practices, and personal growth through introspection, caring for others, and action. The most interesting development was how the teachers of Talmud and English classrooms became good teachers and advocates for their own personal transformation, whether or not the students asked for it or not.

Mindfulness is a modality that can improve learning and teaching practices by skillfully guiding and supporting the teacher and enabling them to shift their focus. Interestingly, teaching mindfulness builds mindfulness to the teacher and to students in the classroom. I don’t think that’s something we expect or anticipate.

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