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Between June 2004 and April 2005, the Garrison Institute… mapped the current status of programs utilizing contemplative techniques with mainstream student populations in K-12 educational settings. The Mapping Project sought to identify similarities and differences in program pedagogy and methodology…

In Washington's Ward 7, where only 33 percent of students graduate from high school, a program called Life Pieces to Masterpieces is sending nearly 100 percent of its graduates to college or post-secondary education.

Thinking, particularly reflective thinking or inquiry, is essential to both teachers’ and students’ learning. In the past 10 to 15 years numerous commissions, boards, and foundations as well as states and local school districts have identified reflection 0 inquiry as a standard toward which all teachers and students must strive. However, although the cry for accomplishment in systematic, reflective thinking is clear, it is more difficult to distinguish what systematic, reflective thinking is. There are four problems associated with this lack of definition that make achievement of such a standard difficult. First, it is unclear how systematic reflection is different from other types of thought. Second, it is difficult to assess a skill that is vaguely defined. Third, without a clear picture of what reflection looks like, it has lost its ability to be seen and therefore has begun to lose its value. And finally, without a clear definition, it is difficult to research the effects of reflective teacher education and professional development on teachers’ practice and students’ learning. It is the purpose of this article to restore some clarity to the concept of reflection and what it means to think, by going back to the roots of reflection in the work of John Dewey. I look at four distinct criteria that characterize Dewey’s view and offer the criteria as a starting place for talking about reflection, so that it might be taught, learned, assessed, discussed, and researched, and thereby evolve in definition and practice, rather than disappear.

Ninety-three researchers, educational leaders and classroom teachers from the US, Canada, England, Ireland and Denmark convened at the Garrison Institute to explore how contemplative approaches can support specific developmental goals in childhood and adolescence….

…a meeting convened … to identify priorities for providing guidance to educators and policy makers on appropriate assessment strategies and systems in order to promote and ensure high-quality educational opportunities that foster the social-emotional development and academic performance of preschool and elementary-school children…

A school-based program of mindful awareness practices (MAPs) was evaluated in a randomized control study of 64 second- and third-grade children ages 7–9 years. The program was delivered for 30 minutes, twice per week, for 8 weeks. Teachers and parents completed questionnaires assessing children's executive function immediately before and following the 8-week period. Multivariate analysis of covariance on teacher and parent reports of executive function (EF) indicated an interaction effect between baseline EF score and group status on posttest EF. That is, children in the MAPs group who were less well regulated showed greater improvement in EF compared with controls. Specifically, those children starting out with poor EF who went through the MAPs training showed gains in behavioral regulation, metacognition, and overall global executive control. These results indicate a stronger effect of MAPs on children with executive function difficulties. The finding that both teachers and parents reported changes suggests that improvements in children's behavioral regulation generalized across settings. Future work is warranted using neurocognitive tasks of executive functions, behavioral observation, and multiple classroom samples to replicate and extend these preliminary findings.

OBJECTIVE: To examine yoga's effects on inner-city children's well-being. METHODS: This pilot study compared fourth- and fifth-grade students at 2 after-school programs in Bronx, New York. One program offered yoga 1 hour per week for 12 weeks (yoga) and the other program (non-yoga) did not. Preintervention and postintervention emotional well-being was assessed by Harter's Global Self-Worth and Physical Appearance subscales, which were the study's primary outcome measures. Secondary outcomes included other measures of emotional well-being assessed by 2 new scales: Perceptions of Physical Health and Yoga Teachings (including Negative Behaviors, Positive Behaviors, and Focusing/relaxation subscales). Preintervention and postintervention, physical wellbeing was assessed by measures of flexibility and balance. Subjective ratings ofyoga's effects on well-being were evaluated by an additional questionnaire completed by the yoga group only. RESULTS: Data were collected from 78% (n=39) and 86.5% (n=32) of potential yoga and non-yoga study enrollees. No differences in baseline demographics were found. Controlling for preintervention well-being differences using analysis of covariance, we found that children in the yoga group had better postintervention Negative Behaviors scores and balance than the non-yoga group (P < .05). The majority of children participating in yoga reported enhanced wellbeing, as reflected by perceived improvements in behaviors directly targeted by yoga (e.g., strength, flexibility, balance). CONCLUSIONS: Although no significant differences were found in the study's primary outcomes (global self-worth and perceptions of physical well-being), children participating in yoga reported using fewer negative behaviors in response to stress and had better balance than a comparison group. Improvements in wellbeing, specifically in behaviors directly targeted by yoga, were reported. These results suggest a possible role of yoga as a preventive intervention as well as a means of improving children's perceived well-being.
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[T]he leadership forum brought together 20 leaders in K-12 education... to explore the avenues by which contemplative wisdom can impact educational reform at three levels: (1) as a catalyst for change in educational policy; (2) as a means to improving educational environments by enhancing teachers’ ability to provide social, emotional, and instructional support, and (3) as both a curricular subject and a method of enhancing curricular content...

The goal of this study was to evaluate potential mental health benefits of yoga for adolescents in secondary school. Students were randomly assigned to either regular physical education classes or to 11 weeks of yoga sessions based upon the Yoga Ed program over a single semester. Students completed baseline and end-program self-report measures of mood, anxiety, perceived stress, resilience, and other mental health variables. Independent evaluation of individual outcome measures revealed that yoga participants showed statistically significant differences over time relative to controls on measures of anger control and fatigue/inertia. Most outcome measures exhibited a pattern of worsening in the control group over time, whereas changes in the yoga group over time were either minimal or showed slight improvements. These preliminary results suggest that implementation of yoga is acceptable and feasible in a secondary school setting and has the potential of playing a protective or preventive role in maintaining mental health.
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In Australia, 14% of children and adolescents have a significant mental health problem, which is similar to global prevalence estimates of 12%. Teaching children techniques in mindfulness meditation has been recommended to improve their mental health. However, the recommendations are based mainly on efficacy in adult clinical trials, and insufficiently on trials with children and adolescents in a classroom setting. This mindfulness meditation pilot project involved training teachers at two primary schools in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia to deliver a ten-week mindfulness curriculum and optional daily mindfulness exercises to students in grades 5 and 6 (ages 10 to 12). Pre- and post-program, students completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and a modified version of the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). On both scales there was a significant decrease in overall average score and the number of children in the diagnostic categories, 25.6% scoring in the borderline or diagnostic category for the SDQ pre-program and 16.3% post-program. For the CDI this was 25.8% pre- and 21.6% post-. The study is limited by its use of a pre-post design without comparison group. However, qualitative findings from teachers assist in discerning key themes, and this pilot study suggests the potential of more formal experimental testing of mindfulness training as an element of a whole-school mental health promotion program.
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Teacher burnout is recognized as a serious problem. In research it has been related to many person-specific variables; one of these, the variable of existential fulfilment, has received very little attention thus far. The present study focuses on the relationship between existential fulfilment and burnout among secondary school teachers in the Netherlands (N = 504). Existential fulfilment was made operational by means of the Existential Fulfilment Scale, which distinguishes between three dimensions: self-acceptance, self-actualization, and self-transcendence. A confirmatory factor analysis revealed a three-dimensional construct with interdependent dimensions. Burnout was measured by the Dutch version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory for teachers. Negative relationships between the existential fulfilment dimensions on the one hand and the burnout dimensions exhaustion and cynicism on the other were hypothesized, as well as positive relationships between the existential fulfilment dimensions and the burnout dimension professional efficacy. The hypotheses were confirmed, except for the relationships between self-transcendence and exhaustion and self-transcendence and cynicism, which appeared not to be significant. The inquiry demonstrated the importance of existential fulfilment for the prevalence and prevention of burnout among teachers. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications for future research.
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Context: In the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War, a project was initiated and designed to reduce tension in the children living in the area under bombardment. Aims: To assess the impact of yoga intervention in a group of Israeli school children residing in the region affected by the Second Lebanon War. Settings and Design: The study population included 122 school children aged 8–12 years in two elementary schools in Safed (n=55 and n=67, respectively) and their teachers (n=6). The children attended the third grade (n=28), fourth grade (n=42) and sixth grade (n=52)., Inclusion in the study was based on the school principal’s consent to participate in the program. Materials and Methods: Assessment was conducted using three questionnaires that have been previously validated in international studies and translated to Hebrew. Statistical Analysis Used: Statistical analysis of the results included Wilcoxon Signed Ranked Tests for pre- and post-intervention comparisons and the Kruskall–Wallis test for teacher and child cross-comparisons. Results: Based on the questionnaires completed by the children and their teachers, we found that the teachers reported many statistically significant improvements in the children’s concentration, mood and ability to function under pressure, although the children themselves were unaware of any change in their behavior. Enjoyment was reported by all participants, and almost all expressed an interest in continuing to practice yoga during school hours. We conclude that participation in yoga classes may be both enjoyable and beneficial to children living in stressful conditions. Conclusions: The study indicates that yoga may be beneficial as an intervention for children in postwar stress situations.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of stress reduction via the Transcendental Meditation program on school rule infractions in adolescents. PMID: 12740037
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Two groups of 45 children each, whose ages ranged from 9 to 13 years, were assessed on a steadiness test, at the beginning and again at the end of a 10-day period during which one group received training in yoga, while the other group did not. The steadiness test required insertion of and holding for 15 sec. a metal stylus without touching the sides of holes of decreasing sizes in a metal plate. The contacts were counted as 'errors'. During the 10-day period, one group (the 'Yoga' group) received training in special physical postures (asanas), voluntary regulation of breathing (Pranayama), maintenance of silence, as well as visual focussing exercises (tratakas) and games to improve the attention span and memory. The other group (control) carried out their usual routine. After 10 days, the 'Yoga' group showed a significant (Wilcoxon's paired signed-ranks test) decrease in errors, whereas the 'control' group showed no change.
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Two hundred and nine pupils were randomly allocated to either a cognitive behaviourally based stress management intervention (SMI) group, or a non-intervention control group. Mood and motivation measures were administered pre and post intervention. Standardized examinations were taken 8–10 weeks later. As hypothesized, results indicated that an increase in the functionality of pupils’ cognitions served as the mechanism by which mental health improved in the SMI group. In contrast, the control group demonstrated no such improvements. Also, as predicted, an increase in motivation accounted for the SMI group's significantly better performance on the standardized, academic assessments that comprise the United Kingdom's General Certificate of Secondary Education. Indeed, the magnitude of this enhanced performance was, on average, one-letter grade. Discussion focuses on the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE for Teachers) is a mindfulness-based professional development program designed to reduce stress and improve teachers’ performance and classroom learning environments. A randomized controlled trial examined program efficacy and acceptability among a sample of 50 teachers randomly assigned to CARE or waitlist control condition. Participants completed a battery of self-report measures at pre- and postintervention to assess the impact of the CARE program on general well-being, efficacy, burnout/time pressure, and mindfulness. Participants in the CARE group completed an evaluation of the program after completing the intervention. ANCOVAs were computed between the CARE group and control group for each outcome, and the pretest scores served as a covariate. Participation in the CARE program resulted in significant improvements in teacher well-being, efficacy, burnout/time-related stress, and mindfulness compared with controls. Evaluation data showed that teachers viewed CARE as a feasible, acceptable, and effective method for reducing stress and improving performance. Results suggest that the CARE program has promise to support teachers working in challenging settings and consequently improve classroom environments.
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