MSES Mindfulness Program Helps Students Be Present, Calm, and Focused on Learning

MSES Mindfulness Program Helps Students Be Present, Calm, and Focused on Learning
Posted on 10/29/2017
Veteran MSES classroom teacher and literacy interventionist Kelly Johnston is visiting first- and third-grade classrooms this year to teach students about Mindful Learning in school as part of the Manitou Mindset program we are establishing at our school. Manitou Mindset is our focus on the research of New Zealand researcher John Hattie, whose meta-study of education research has identified Visible Learning (what we call Mindful Learning) as among the most powerful strategies we can apply to student academics. Mindful Learning involves training students to take focused ownership of and set goals for their own learning. Ms. Johnston’s Mindfulness program at our school supports student-led learning by focusing specifically on the research-based, academic supports to learning of being present, calm, focused, and ready to work--the prerequisite mindset for learning.

In a larger sense, all students (and adults) need tools to help them navigate their busy modern lives. Mindfulness is one tool people use to develop self-awareness, resilience, and self-regulation. It is defined as a way of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment without judgment. It is the awareness of what is happening in the here and now of sensations, thoughts and emotions. When we can name our experiences that are overwhelming, we can tame them. Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. In its simpler form, Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening right NOW – on purpose. Focusing on what is at hand, rather than what happened in the past or worrying about what is going to happen in the future, is an integral part of Mindfulness.

Research has shown there are many benefits to Mindfulness in school, including a more sustained focus in class (known as attention control), which leads to increased cognitive performance; the ability to develop self-awareness skills; and emotional regulation (or self-control) in stressful situations, which helps students make better choices. Even great musicians have to first tune their instruments. It is the same with learning. For most students, before they can fully engage in their academics, they need to first tune their “instruments”, their brains, by learning how to pay attention and then sustain their attention over time. In other words, to calm, stabilize and focus the mind and body. Mindfulness teaches students how to do this.

Distinctly non-spiritual, our academic Mindfulness program is strongly supported by the research of social and physical scientists all over the world. This concept is highly effective in all fields. Mindfulness programs are used in schools throughout Colorado--as well as the U.S. Marine Corps, NBA and NFL teams, and major corporations. In fact, the Seattle Seahawks (whether Broncos fans like them or not…) attributed their past Super Bowl success, in part, to the addition of Mindfulness to their team’s training regimen.

So far, MSES students have learned about what a Mindful body looks like in class (still & quiet); what Mindful breathing is all about (slowing your breath and paying attention to your breathing to bring yourself into the here and now); and what Heartfulness is (sending caring thoughts to others and to yourself). These are a baseline focus for Mindful Learning, so our students can be present and ready to dig deep into their lessons in class.

Students have responded very positively, but no child is forced to participate if they choose not to do so. Lessons are 15-20 minutes long and include fun activities. Students participating in this first year rollout will enjoy future topics of Mindfulness like generosity, mindful seeing & listening, being kind & caring on the playground, slowing down, gratitude, mindful test-taking, and creating space between strong emotion and action.

Ms. Johnston is always available to talk with parents/guardians about Mindfulness and will update Mustang Tales as more lessons/concepts are introduced. You can contact her at [email protected] if you wish to discuss this exciting and powerful new concept at MSES. If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources about Mindfulness:

Mindful Schools

Mindful Teachers

Resources Directory- Mindful


TED Talks

Mindfulness In Schools Project

Richard Burnett

TEDX White Chapel

Why Aren’t We Teaching Mindfulness In Schools?


Anne Marie Rossi

TEDX Youth


How Training Mindfulness Benefits Learning

Saga Briggs

Why Teaching mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning

Tina Barseghian

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