Compassionate Schools Project | News
The Compassionate Schools Project's K-12 educational curriculum facilitates integrated development of mind and body; Educating the whole child.
The Compassionate Schools Project Educating the whole child.
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Education Week spoke to Tish Jennings about how teachers can cope with the tremendous challenges of teaching.

“The social and emotional demands of the classroom are staggering. The teacher must build supportive relationships with 20-30 young people, with their own individual needs, desires, fears, and concerns, while these young people are learning how to manage social relationships between and among themselves, working through their emotional ups and downs, friendships and conflicts. Add to this the fact that there is no privacy in the classroom and everyone is a virtual captive–none can leave without adverse consequences, especially the teacher. This lack of privacy and sense of being a captive, creates an added level of stress–it can sometimes feel like a pressure cooker. To top it off, when students go off task or interfere with lessons, a teacher can become frustrated and annoyed but must manage her feelings professionally without losing her cool. In other work contexts, when something frustrates us, we can take a break to cool off. Teachers don’t have this luxury.

Teacher preparation programs rarely address these issues and most teachers enter the workforce ill equipped to perform well without additional professional development and coaching. The good news is that more schools of education are addressing this need. At the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, my elementary education students learn strategies to manage these demands in the classroom management course I teach. They learn about emotions, the stress response and why the classroom can be so stressful. They learn tools to monitor and manage their stress as they work so they can avoid burnout that is taking a toll on our teaching workforce.”

Read the full article, “Response: Teaching can be Tough, but We’re Also ‘Lucky

 

In its piece about how to effectively use systems change to realize social change, The Stanford Innovation Review calls the Compassionate Schools Project a “… systems change endeavor that has used thoughtful research and analysis to hone its approach.”

From the article:

“The message is clear: Our focus should be more on solving problems through creative collaboration, and less on the establishment and perpetuation of new institutions. In addition, we need to develop and employ system entrepreneurs who are skilled in coordinating systematic approaches to addressing the complex, large-scale problems of our time…. A growing number of philanthropists and nonprofits are embracing the principles of systems change as an effective way to solve the world’s biggest problems.”

Read the full article “Solving the World’s Biggest Problems: Better Philanthropy Through Systems Change

Meghann Clem Mattingly ExCEL Award WinnerIn her acceptance speech for a prestigious teaching award, Meghann Clem Mattingly said of the Compassionate Schools Project, “I believe this to be more than a project. I believe this to be a movement. And being a part of this movement has been the biggest honor of my career yet.”

Mattingly, who teaches at Louisville’s Cane Run School, received the ExCEL Award (The Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leadership Award).

“I had always been passionate about teaching my students social-emotional skills. There had always been such a deficit in this area for our students. However the demands of being a teacher pushed those needs to the back,” she said.

“This curriculum is so well-written that it truly has the potential to change the trajectory of the lives of our students. There is no greater feeling for a teacher than to be a part of something so profound.”

Mattingly thanked the leadership Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and at Cane Run: Dr. Donna Hargens, Principal Kim Coslow, Miss Phillips, and Dr. Alexis Harris.

Watch Mattingly’s moving story about her personal journey into teaching  in this video, Compassionate Schools Project Teacher Wins Award, Calls CSP a Movement.”

NPR station WHYY reported on a Baltimore program teaching mindfulness to school children there, and consulted Compassionate Schools Project’s Tish Jennings.

From the story: “What if every time a kid acted out, he got sent to take some deep breaths, instead of detention? Well a program in Baltimore has been trying that out for the past few years, with good results. The school’s suspension rate has dropped — to zero”

One student, “…used to resist when adults tried to discipline him…  It was like one time, when I was mad at the teacher, the kids in the classroom, I was so mad, I flipped all the desks and chairs,” the student said.

Listen to or read the full story: “Schools Experimenting with Meditation as an Alternative to Detention

Patricia Jennings

NPR’s Morning Edition talks to Jennings about mindfulness in the classroom.

From the story:
Forty-six percent of teachers say they feel high daily stress. That’s on par with nurses and physicians. And roughly half of teachers agree with this statement: “The stress and disappointments involved in teaching at this school aren’t really worth it.”

It’s a problem for all of us — not just these unhappy teachers.

Jennings says the teachers who received mindfulness training “showed reduced psychological distress and time urgency — which is this feeling like you don’t have enough time. And then improvements in mindfulness and emotion regulation.”

Translation: These teachers were better able to cope with classroom challenges and manage their feelings, which made it easier for them to manage their students’ big feelings. And that, says Jennings, helps students learn.”

Listen to the interview: “Teachers Are Stressed, And That Should Stress Us All

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-58-04-pmThe University of Virginia’s premier news outlet, UVA TODAY, featured the Compassionate Schools Project:

“Students watch as pieces of glitter float furiously around inside a recently shaken jar. The glitter, their teacher tells them, is akin to their emotions; after being provoked, if they wait and give it time, the glittery chaos inside the jar will eventually settle and calm will be restored.

This lesson is just one of many elementary school students learn in Louisville, Kentucky, where the Jefferson County Schools district is partnering with the University of Virginia’s Youth-Nex Center and the Contemplative Sciences Center to implement a health and wellness program called the Compassionate Schools Project.”

Read the full story: Compassionate Schools Project Offers New Take on PE/Health Curriculum

csm-borderThe Christian Science Monitor published an in-depth story on the Compassionate Schools Project.

One of the teachers, Miss Clem, commented on the difference with this type of instruction, “How many times as a teacher have I said, ‘Sit up and focus,’ when I’ve never once given you the definition of what focus means?”

Now, she’s showing them what it feels like to focus…. She points to that morning, when one most of the class was sitting obediently, but “I had a kid, during the bell, running across these chairs,” Clem says, pointing to a row of blue chairs lined up against the wall. “But,” she says proudly, “I had 22 kids who were able to sit here and tune him out. Now imagine that in a testing situation.

“They need to be able to stay focused even through major distractions. Everything about this curriculum teaches them how to do that.”

time-mag3In “The Mindful Classroom,” Time highlighted the Compassionate Schools Project curriculum being implemented in Louisville, Kentucky classrooms.

From the article, by Mandy Oaklander for Time:

Some Experts Think Mindfulness is the Antidote to Distraction, Misbehaving—Even Poor Math Scores. Are They On to Something?

Christina Johnson’s Classroom must be the most peaceful place at Cane Run Elementary School in Louisville, Ky. Instead of desks, six rows of black yoga mats line the floor. All the lights are off except for one gently glowing lamp. Underwater sounds gurgle from a pair of speakers. Today nearly two dozen fifth-graders are sitting on the mats with their shoes off and eyes closed, following Johnson as she guides them through a relaxation exercise. “Take a nice, nice deep breath in, and keep your hands on your anchors, please,” Johnson says. The kids place one hand on their chest, the other on their belly. Johnson taps a chime and the kids know what to do: listen intently, and when the long reverberation stops, their hands shoot up. “Good job,” Johnson says.
Photo by Luke Sharrett for Time: Fifth-graders flow through yoga-inspired poses in a mindfulness class at a public school in Louisville, KY.

Time Magazine, October, 2016 

*Time Magazine allows access to the full article only with a subscription here, “The Mindful Classroom,” but you may get the article by contacting Youth-Nex. For this permission, contact: Ellen Daniels edaniels@virginia.edu.

Jennings Shih illustration3

Tish Jennings is featured on the NPR Higher Ed blog for her work with CARE, Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education, the evidence based program she co-founded which teaches mindfulness to teachers. CARE is the first mindfulness program studied with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Jennings is also a key leader on the Compassionate Schools Project.

From the NPR article:
“Teaching is inherently a stressful occupation, and by many accounts, it’s getting more so. Students bring the effects of poverty and trauma into the classroom. Administrators lay on the pressure to meet ever-changing standards. In the last few years, teacher job satisfaction has reportedly plummeted to a 25-year low, and turnover is high — almost 50 percent for new teachers. Patricia Jennings isn’t necessarily out to change all these factors. Instead, she aims to help teachers become the change they wish to see in the world.”

Read the full story: When Teachers Take A Breath, Students Can Bloom