Session 1: Mindfulness in daily school life
Lecturer: Bat-Ami Langman
Date: March 8, 2017
Upon entering the first grade, the child begins a six-year journey in elementary school. Hopefully, this journey will result in an educated person with values and dignity, a person who is aware of himself and empathetic toward his surroundings and who is skilled and well-prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century. In order to achieve this goal, we, as educators, must examine the whole path and then divide it into smaller pieces (years, months, weeks, and hours) and examine each one separately. This holistic attitude is fundamental to the change I am suggesting.
When I began to serve as principal in my school, I noticed that many people go to psychologists. Some of these people - particularly the young ones - have self-control issues: anything that thwarts their expectations causes a blowup.
In an attempt to identify a strategy that could help teachers better manage our pupils' wellbeing, I eventually discovered some research concerning students with ADHD and mindfulness.
The simple definition of mindfulness is: Be present here and now, in non-judicial way. Although its roots reside in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he initiated at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since then, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring the adaptation of the MBSR model to schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond (from the "Greater Good" website). What are its implications regarding education? How can you train the teachers? What are the benefits for the entire school community? These questions will be discussed in our meeting.
Mrs. Langman is a well-known, experienced educator from the Negev District in Israel. She began her professional path as a Science and Technology high-school teacher, later she served as the principal of two schools, and then advanced to key leadership positions in schools and in the Ministry of Education. She is presently one of the leaders of the regional department in the Ministry of Education, where she initiates and coordinates unique innovative educational projects. In collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the local municipality, she coordinated the program for civic education in Kiryat Gat.
Since she was very concerned that so many children in the school system were being treated by psychologists and psychiatrists, she sought to do something for their wellbeing. In her capacity as a member of the national initiative for innovative principals, she received training in Mindfulness and initiated training in this field for her school teachers. Implementing the Mindfulness concepts with children not only resulted in an improvement in the school's social climate, but also in the wellbeing of teachers and children alike. Ms Langman subsequently went to work as an inspector at the Ministry of Education and continued to implement the ideas of Mindfulness among school principals.