Compassionate Schools Project | News
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The Compassionate Schools Project held a celebration and meet-up in Louisville on Thursday, November 16th for everyone involved in the project, hosted by project chair Owsley Brown III. More than 200 Jefferson County Public School teachers, principals, administrators, as well as project funders and staff came together at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage to tell stories, make plans, share lessons, and toast the Compassionate Schools Project at the height of its activity.

Mindful Magazine highlighted leaders in the field of mindfulness research and named her one of the top 10 in the story, “Meditators Under the Microscope” 

From the article:

Jennings is known for innovative research on mindfulness in education. She recently published a randomized controlled trial showing that a mindfulness-based professional development program for teachers, CARE for Teachers, reduces teacher stress and improves classroom interactions.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

She’s conducting a randomized controlled trial of the Compassionate Schools Project. It aims to promote focus, resilience, empathy, and well-being by teaching mindfulness, contemplative movement, and social/emotional skills to students at 50 Louisville elementary schools.

Read the full article: “Meditators Under the Microscope.

Jennings also received the Catherine Kerr Award for Courageous and Compassionate Science – The award is given biennially to a researcher from any academic discipline who 1) has made significant contributions to the contemplative sciences, and 2) exemplifies the qualities and character that Cathy brought to her work, including bold innovation, imagination, courage, authenticity and heartfulness. Read more.

After having a panic attack live on Good Morning America, Dan Harris, “fidgety, skeptical ABC newsman,” began to meditate. He also started a podcast and wrote a best selling book“10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Actually Works. A recent podcast episode features Mindful Magazine Publisher, James Gimian who highlights the Compassionate Schools Project, although he doesn’t mention its name.

Gimian –
“One of the most inspiring city-wide research activations going on right now is in Louisville, Kentucky, we just covered in our recent issue, a very inspiring mayor, who’s making it a compassionate city, bringing mindfulness and compassion training in research throughout the school system. A huge, huge research project supported by the University of Virginia.”

Listen to the Podcast:  “#84: James Gimian, Mindful Magazine Publisher.”

Other ways to access the podcast. (Look for the title:#84: James Gimian, Mindful Magazine Publisher June 14 )
Access with TuneIn here:
Access with itunes here:

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

From the story:
“Newly armed with a doctorate in education, Stephanie Romero, executive director of the new nonprofit Awaken Pittsburgh, is developing curriculum for mindfulness with projects in various sites in the Pittsburgh area.

During her studies — with a focus on mindfulness as a teacher — she discovered efforts to use meditative practices to help at-risk youth. Ms. Romero said she found a compelling curriculum called Path of Freedom, designed for at-risk and incarcerated youth and adult prisoners and developed by Kate Crisp and Fleet Maull…. ‘It changed the way I worked with kids,’ she said. ‘It changed me deeply.'”

Awaken Pittsburgh is working out the details for implementing the CARE teacher training programs in three Pittsburgh school districts. CARE was developed by Compassionate School Project’s Tish Jennings and advisory board member Prof. Mark Greenberg.

“Ms. Romero, Carrie McCann, program developer for Awaken Pittsburgh, and Mt. Lebanon High School teacher Tina Raspanti have participated in teacher training developed by Penn State education researchers Patricia Jennings and Mark Greenberg. In a 2013 study, they reported that mindfulness training for teachers was found to improve their social and emotional competence and leads to less stress and burnout and better classroom experiences. The program, called CARE for Teachers, is available for teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade (www.care4teachers.com).”

Read the full story: “Awaken Pittsburgh Develops Mindfulness Programs for Youth, Teachers

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