Mindfulness, Sustainability & Mathematics

Our guest blogger for this week is Educating for Sustainability M.Ed Student,  Stephen Jamme.  He  talks about developing mindfulness practices for himself and his students at as part of his practicum work at Antioch New England.  Enjoy!!

At the beginning of the Fall one of my practicum goals was related to developing mindfulness.  I wanted to:
1.  To begin to introduce to all my mathematics students the benefits of  self awareness and reflection.
2.  To start a meditation club that provides any interested student in our Upper School the opportunity to experience various meditation methods and their  benefits.
3.  To build a faculty professional development strand into my school’s ongoing
in-service training.  This will help faculty practice mindfulness in their  work.

Upon reflection at this midpoint in the year, I find that my most significant progress in regard to this goal has come in the realm of my personal meditation practice.  As I have studied various texts and attended multiple talks, workshops, conferences and classes my personal practice has grown.  As my personal practice grows I can better model the mindful qualities of self awareness and self reflection for my school community.  I now meditate one full hour each morning using Insight Meditation guidelines.  Sharon Salzberg’s work The Force of Kindness has also provide me many tangible examples of how to practice mindfulness in my classroom.  The very tangible results of my work have been a noticeable increase in calm, respectful, and focused behavior in my students.  .

My meditation experience with Susan Dreyer Leon, a member of the Antioch faculty, during the Summer 2009 ANE session started my thought process toward having meditation as a key component in my school’s curriculum.  Her simple presentation of meditation basics has been the model I’ve followed in the meditation club I co-sponsored this fall.  I further followed her mentoring by attending the Mind and Life Institute two day conference on “Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century.  Scientists, educators, and contemplatives gathered to discuss how educators can help foster inner peace and happiness in children.  The Dali Lama, who presided over this gathering, emphasized the secular nature of this work.  Fostering the skills needed to better manage emotions and live a compassionate life was discussed.  His holiness emphasized that this was secular work to be engaged in by all faiths and agnostics.  Presenters shared many dynamic emerging strategies.

In October I participated in a six week Mindful Parenting course offered through the Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville (IMCC).  The focus was on how one might actively employ skills of meditation toward effective child rearing.  In short, Lindsay Diamond, the instructor emphasized pausing, relaxing, opening, accepting, listening deeply and speaking the truth.  This method was reinforced through a variety of class exercises and became the groundwork for the changes I witnessed in my mathematics classroom.   The pause allows one to survey one’s emotional landscape and to consider the long run effects of whatever response might come to mind.  Calm adult responses reinforce calm thoughtful responses in children.

By Stephen Jamme – EFS class of 2011.  Please contact Stephen at sjamme@stab.org if you have questions.

And if YOU are interested in sharing your meditation experiences as a teacher or with your students and would like to be a guest blogger, please contact Susan Dreyer Leon at sdreyerleon@antioch.edu

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Author: sdreyerleon

Susan Dreyer Leon is the director of the Experienced Educators Program at Antioch University New England. For information about our programs, including our wonderful Educating for Sustainability M.Ed. program, please visit http://www.antiochne.edu/ed/exed/default.cfm?nav=1. Susan is also involved with the new Mindfulness for Educators Certificate program, which is a three way collaboration between the Center for Mindful Inquiry, Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and the Antioch Center for School Renewal. For more information , visit the CMI website at http://www.mindfulinquiry.org/

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