Mindful Leadership: Creating Sanctuaries for Learning
Educating our children is sacred work. Classrooms should be sanctuaries in which students can learn, play, grow and thrive. We want our children to feel a sense of belonging, to love the challenge of learning, and to enter the world beyond school as confident, compassionate citizens. When classrooms are considered sanctuaries, students can fully express themselves and see their interconnectedness to one another and the world.
In Robbinsville, as we strive to embrace the whole child, we are working collectively to incorporate mindfulness strategies for staff and students throughout our PreK-12 district. These practices allow students to refuel and build the stamina needed for academic success. We have established a cohesive team of teachers, parents, and community members who are focusing on ways to support and enhance the health and well‐being of students and families by improving the school environment. We believe that if our schools and our community provide learners with consistent, meaningful, and recurrent messages about emotional health, there will be a greater impact in the way each individual receives and processes these messages.
Within this sacred space, teachers and students strive to create a respectful, caring community of learners. In the elementary school, teachers are incorporating practices such as deep-breathing techniques, yoga, and mindful coloring in order to build resilience, trust, and a community of care with their students. The middle school has undertaken a school-wide mindful approach, one in which teachers are utilizing brain science to help students learn to identify their emotions as well as strategies to self-regulate. At Robbinsville High School, the staff and students have been trained in Positive Education, a skill-based initiative designed to enhance well-being, promote positive identity development, engagement, and relationships. Please see this padlet link to review a wealth of resources for creating your own sanctuaries of learning.
Our professional development programming is also tied to these important areas. The high school staff has spent the last four years learning about positive psychology and turn-keying their knowledge in monthly lessons with students. As part of a four-year, educator-induction program, all of our new teachers participate in mindfulness training and each staff member works on how to incorporate skills such as communication, collaboration, resilience, and emotional intelligence into their instruction and assessment. Finally, since we know that a healthy staff supports healthy learners, one professional development day per year is dedicated to educator wellness. Educators use what they learn during this time to bring a variety of activities like mindful journaling, yoga, and breathing exercises into the classroom to promote well-being, mindfulness, and resilience.
As student stress and anxiety continue to rise, we must not forget our mission to provide sanctuaries for learning. Collectively, we will do everything possible to create safe spaces for our students to succeed. For ours is a vocation of love.