Mindfulness in Middle School

by Nathan Koniowka

Beth Oswald, a social studies teacher at JC McKenna Middle School, received a grant to enroll in the Mindful Educator Essentials course being offered by the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO). This six-week, online course teaches mindfulness meditation through videos, readings, and reflections, as well as guided mindfulness practices. It also covered the current research on mindfulness and the brain, emotion regulation, and compassion.

Over the duration of the course, teachers learn the basics of mindfulness meditation, how to work with thoughts that arise when practicing mindfulness, techniques and practices that allow one to navigate emotions and cultivate positive states of mind, as well as support for developing a daily sitting practice. Teachers learn multiple ways to cope with stress and relax, as well as a more mindful approach to their curriculum and students. 

Knowing that the middle school students will have some extra stress this year with all of the construction, the middle school piloted a wellness program last year. For fifteen minutes after the first class of the day, students participated in various activities such as yoga, coloring, zentangle, and general mindfulness exercises. This break in the day offered students time to take a deep breath and flush out stress. Upon having the students take a survey on how they liked the wellness program as well as how effective it was, the results were positive with most students saying that they enjoyed the activities offered.