Kickapoo is not afraid!

Lately at our house, we’ve been doing yoga after dinner.   We found a great resource called Cosmic Kids Yoga.  What we love about it is that its really developmentally appropriate for young yogis!  Each 10-15 minute video is an adventure story where children (and parents) are led through a series of yoga poses as part of the story.

Both my daughter and I are enchanted with the teacher, Jamie.  She’s expressive, engaged and her instructions are clear and easy to follow.  The stories have a moral and the themes are reinforced during the short relaxation meditation at the end. My very favorite so far is “Kickapoo the kangaroo.”  I like it because young Kickapoo is a fearless explorer of the outback and because we get to jump around at the end singing “Tie me kangaroo down, sport!”  It’s impossible to do without a huge smile on your face!

Jamie, your Cosmic Kids instructor.
Jamie, your Cosmic Kids instructor.

My daughter tuned out traditional yoga instruction–even for kids–after the first minute or two, but she stays with this until the end.  And then, after the video is over, she wants to teach me yoga.  So, we have another good 10 minutes of exercise while she makes up her own stories and shares them with me.  The poses may be a bit “creative” but the combination of exercise, imagination and fun makes up for that.

At one point in my life I was quite a yoga “purist” and I probably would have had a lot of negative things to say about “Cosmic Kids.”  Now, as a mom looking to engage a younger person in some body-based contemplative practices, I think it’s just great.  I also like it as an educator because it is a wonderful example of how we can teach young children many different topics by engaging their imagination.  For example, early years math really shouldn’t come from a text book or a worksheet.  With a few simple props and a story line, students can be practicing exactly the same number concepts by running a store,  playing bank, or building with blocks.  As educators, we just have to get more intentional about designing these learning activities and documenting the learning.

So, give Cosmic Kids a try and let us know what you think!

Cosmic Kids Yoga–Kickapoo the Kangaroo


Antioch now has two programs in Mindfulness for Teachers!

Mindfulness for Educators Certificate Program

Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2014

Inquire Today


Program Philosophy

Mindful educatorThe Mindfulness for Educators Certificate Program trains educators in the core practices of mindfulness and compassion, as formal practices and as lived and embodied responses to life in the classroom and in the world.  Antioch University New England has the only graduate program with a focus on mindfulness that is just for teachers.

Program Delivery

  • All courses fully on-line
  • Nine graduate credits
  • Year-long program completed in fall-summer of any academic year
  • One course per term

Relevant and engaging coursework takes into account the lives of working educators. The cohort approach helps participants remain committed to daily meditation and informal mindfulness practices. The program combines on-line pedagogy with interactive teaching methodology. It includes small class sizes, individual attention from faculty, and real-time connection via telephone, on-line conferencing, and webinars.

buddist gardenProgram Orientation

The program strengthens an educator’s innate wisdom through the study and daily application of ancient and current applied philosophical perspectives, and universal and human development models. It has a three-pronged approach:

  • formal meditation practice
  • study of the field of mindfulness
  • application of ideas and approaches to classroom and other educational contexts

The program is rooted in the philosophy of reflective practice and inquiry. Each course is designed to lead teachers deeper into their own classroom experience and help them see the work of teaching and learning with fresh eyes.


Mindfulness for Educators M.Ed Concentration

Now Accepting Applications for Summer and Fall 2014

Inquire Today

With the same philosophical orientation as our Certificate Program, the M.Ed adds additional Mindfulness course, plus opportunities to apply your learning in greater depth with our practicum courses and one-to-one advising.

Complete your degree in five semesters!

Most students take six credits in the fall and spring semesters.  This includes one required on-line class and a choice of practicum.  During the summer, students will take one on-line required course in mindfulness for educators and one or two week-long face-to-face courses on campus at AUNE in Keene, New Hampshire. The summer residency is typically the middle two weeks of July.  Students may spread out the program to take fewer courses in a given semester.  Please inquire during the admissions process to learn more about this option.

Online MEd Program

On-Line Courses:

  • Using Buddhist Frameworks to Reflect on Teaching and Learning
  • Human Development and the Inner Landscape of Teachers and Learners
  • Awareness of Body, Mind, Heart, and Brain: Pathways to Change in Education
  • Compassionate Action in the World
  • Mindful Leadership

Practicum Courses

  • Child Study
  • Curriculum
  • Equity and Change

On-campus summer courses at Antioch University New England

  • Developing Mind
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Elective course of your choice

mindful teachingElectives can include AUNE courses in place-based or problem-based learning, nature-based schooling, sustainability, leadership, and educational technology.   You can also incorporate meditation retreat experiences, or external trainings related to teaching mindfulness to children and youth into the MEd program.






Claire Stanley Antioch University NE faculty

Claire Stanley, Ph.D., is on the faculty of Antioch University New England and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. She is also a founder and the Guiding Teacher of Vermont Insight Meditation Center in Brattleboro, Vermont. Her work as an educator for the last thirty years has focused on teacher development, interpersonal, and intercultural communication in professional relationships, and the role of mindful awareness in the quality and effectiveness of our work in the world. She is passionate about the far-reaching possibilities of transforming the systems of any professional context into learning communities where human beings are awake, compassionate, and responsive to their inner life and to the lives of the people they work with.

Jack Millett, founder and teacher at the Center for Mindful Inquiry and Vermont Insight Meditation Center.

Jack Millett, MAT, is a founder and teacher at the Center for Mindful Inquiry and Vermont Insight Meditation Center. He was an Associate Professor in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at the SIT Graduate Institute for twenty-five years. Since 1990 Jack has been exploring ways to integrate meditation and teaching practices to bring mindfulness to his work in the classroom. When designing lessons and teaching classes, he is most interested in being in the moment, seeing what is, accepting what is, and responding to serve. From his extensive teaching, teacher supervision, and educational administration experience, he has developed the ability to create safe and engaging environments that allow participants in his courses and workshops to touch an appreciation of themselves and others as they engage and learn the content of the course.

Susan Dreyer-Leon, Ed.D, Director of the Experienced Educators' Program AUNE

Susan Dreyer-Leon, Ed.D., is director of the Experienced Educators’ Program at Antioch University New England, a former alternative public high school teacher/leader in New York City and Vermont, a School Reform Initiative National Facilitator, and an experienced Coalition of Essential Schools teacher and leader. Her special interests include the development and support of equitable, democratic and joyful schools, mindfulness and education, facilitative leadership, and sustainable and place-based educational practices.  Susan has been a meditation practitioner and student in the Insight Meditation tradition since 1999 and has been intimately involved with the development and implementation of the Mindfulness for Educators Certificate program since its inception in 2011.  Her special interest is hosting opportunities for educators to integrate practices and ideas from the emerging field of mindfulness and education.

On being helpful

Lately, I’ve been encountering (or is it noticing) some important messages on theme of helping.  This train of thought sort of started a few weeks ago when I had a chance to here the Buddhist Meditation teacher, Herb Ferris speak on the topic.  He suggested that many of us are interested in meditation and mindfulness precisely because we want to follow the path of what some Buddhist traditions call “bodhichitta.”  One translation of this concept is that it’s the desire to pursue mindfulness in order to be of benefit to other people and maybe even help them to follow the same path.  This goes back to one of my early fall posts on cultivating mindfulness in order to get clear so that we don’t “disturb other people” with all our turmoil.

I think, as teachers, we especially resonate with these ideas.  We want to be helpful to our students, first and foremost, but also to our colleagues, our schools and communities.  It’s the aspect of teaching that is more like a calling than like a job.  And we want to teach with some awareness so that our own issues and moods and all the inevitable peaks and troughs of our personal lives do not create upheavals in our classrooms and for our students.  We look to cultivate some equanimity for their benefit as well as our own.

But, here’s the thing that Herb Ferris said at his talk.  It’s not easy.  It turns out that the seemingly simple intention to help others is very, very hard.  And it’s hard on several levels.  First of all, it’s hard because we don’t always know how to help.  It’s not clear what the right course of action is.  And then, to make matters more complex, it’s virtually impossible to figure out in advance what kind of help will have unintended harmful consequences.  And then, on top of all these logistical questions, there are deeper questions of motivation.  Are we helping because we are seeing clearly how we can be of assistance, or are our motivations clouded by unrealized personal needs on our part?

Sometimes, it’s easy to do a seemingly simple good deed (give food to your local family center or food pantry).  It seems, however, that the kinds of “help” that teaching requires get sticky much more quickly.  How much do we do for our students?  How much do we let them do for themselves, knowing the frustrations and risks down those various roads, maybe better than they do.

I can vividly remember the sort of “soul shock” that hit me when I had been working very hard to “help” a teenage student of mine get out of his family’s house where I believed he was being abused and neglected.  He was finally placed in foster care.  Right away he gained about 20 pounds and I remember feeling so vindicated that he was at least thriving physically in his new setting.  Then he was moved into a substance abuse rehab center.  He didn’t do so well there and ended up in a juvenile detention facility where he had some horrible experiences.  At the end of this three month odyssey, he was placed right back in his house and things returned to the way they had been before he left.  Except he didn’t trust me anymore, and he stopped coming to school.   He sided with his family, who told him that the “system” was trying to put in him jail and break up his family.  Of course he did that.  He needed them to survive and he loved them and needed them to love him back.

It wasn’t until a compassionate counselor and I started talking about this young man’s situation that I really understood what a lot of folks “in the system” had been trying to tell me.  We actually don’t have good options for abused teens.  They’re too old to go into the foster care system.  Long-term residential placements are rare and expensive.  I had been under the delusion that there were spaces and places for kids where they could heal and be nurtured into adulthood free from their dangerous home lives.  But actually, what we mostly do is incarcerate our poorest troubled teens and they grow up in the prison system, where they are often trapped well into their twenties and sometimes beyond.  It’s actually quite lucky this young man was able to get out of the detention center.  If he had had a more serious fight there, they could have charged him with felony assault and kept him for years for that crime.

If I had all this to do over again, I think I would have tried much harder to get family counseling for this young man and his family.  To try to heal at the community level the environment in which he was destined to spend the four remaining years of his youth.  In truth he loved his family, for all their problems, and he didn’t want to be taken away from his home.

I couldn’t see all that at the time.  I wasn’t looking clearly at the situation.  I was just seeing it from inside my own head.  That’s where the value of mindfulness comes in.  It allows you to pause, to seek multiple perspectives.  It doesn’t mean you don’t act.  It just means that you can act with greater clarity and less certainty (which in this case would have been a good thing).  I think the desire to be of use, is still a wonderful motivation for teaching, but I also think that tempering that desire with mindfulness practices can only be good.

At the School Reform Initiative Conference in January we spent some time with Marge Piercy’s poem “To be of use.”  It’s such a wonderful statement of the intention of many of us in the educational world.  The line that really hit me was,

“But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.”

I think we all know this feeling in our hearts when we’ve done it right.  The thing well done “clean and evident.”  This kind of helpfulness comes from that deeper place of insight and understanding.

To read the whole poem, follow this link.

To read an article by Pema Chodron on the concept of bodhichitta, follow this link.

To learn more about Herb Ferris’s class on mindfulness and other programs at Time & Space in Springfield, VT,  follow this link