I’m in the midst of a training course where we are taught fundamental teaching methods in transmitting the curriculum to young people, particularly at-risk and in under resourced schools.
Here are my responses to weekly writing assignments.
Assignment 1 (Building a Container & Working with Resistance)
This is a bit of an ‘aside’ from the curriculum, although I feel it’s relevant. I am not a grade school teacher, but; Twice a week I teach addicts how to meditate. I’m weaving the curriculum into the meetings. This week we had 28 in attendance (ages 17 to 70). To say that I sometimes work with resistance and distraction would be an understatement. The value and importance of creating a safe container in this setting cannot be overstressed, at least when it comes to expecting any benefit from the practice.
Solidity and authenticity are the key players in this role and relevance the best tool for respect and adherence. Folks are arranged in a semi / ¾ circle, 2-3 rows. I ring the bell to start the class and lay down what we’re going to be doing (setting expectations as well as allowing freedom to just observe from the sidelines) We get a mutual agreement of respect and confidentiality going right off the bat. Not just in what’s shared but what’s observed. We’re all down for a unique experience and we only take our own with us.
A mixed bag this week; What went well was a couple of people talked to me after and said they were blown away that they were able to “do it”, that the instructions given in ‘being mindful’ seemed much easier than that of “achieving a state of meditation” that they were expecting.
Challenging; There are always some noises offering distraction, in and outside the room. I offer this as an opportunity to observe reaction and response to noise. Labeling, feelings (irritated, curious, etc.). Also challenged by the “I can’t do this” comments. I let it go with acknowledging any effort at all. “Did you have one mindful breath? Cool, maybe next time you can go for two” 😉
Not so much questions, but statements of doubt in “I don’t think I can do this on my own”. I pretty much reply with the same suggestion of; try it at the next stoplight you sit at or maybe mindfully washing A dish. Then try to move on to a few stoplights or a sink full of dishes.
Assignment 1 (Explaining Neuroscience)
Share your experience explaining basic brain functions.
- What went well?
- What was challenging?
- What questions came up?
My enthusiasm about the subject helped thing go well. I wouldn’t say I’m a neuroscience geek or necessarily want to be but I am mechanically minded so the subject brings a great deal of relevance to light for me. Areas of the brain turning up or down the volume as required and the practice of mindfulness in gaining more control over those switches are fun to talk about. I was able to put the hippocampus into action, quickly recalling the lesson.
The challenge is in lack of greater knowledge and detail. I find it hard to fall short on a subject I come off having a lot of passion about. This is where honesty and humility come into play.
Questions turned quickly into another conversation I’m fascinated about; that of intuition. We began to connect the dots between how it’s either detected or manufactured through memory.
Neuroscience is a great tool for taking ourselves a little less personally.
Share your experience offering a presentation on mindfulness.
- What went well?
- What was challenging?
- What questions came up?
I presented two test subjects with a brief presentation. I couldn’t help but to put on my marketing/sales hat and essentially provide them with an offer they couldn’t refuse. This went well. I provided an explanation of what Mindfulness is including a quick history and the potential benefits for staff and student. Then asked that I be able to provide them with one 15-minute session (class 1 per curriculum).
The question of cost came up in both subjects. I offered the demonstration for free and to trial and audit the course on one classroom before deciding on how many I would be providing for and structuring a fee schedule.
The challenge I have is just how realistic this was. I’m looking forward to answering that question as experience and opportunity allow. Also, if time and interest allowed, I’d love to able to spin off all the research numbers and statistics. I think even if I had these memorized it would be best to be reading from a print-out and have it available to hand over.
To help create a sense closure for the course, please take a moment to let your voice be heard as we say goodbye to one another. Please:
- Share a key learning you’re taking from the course, how it felt to participate with others in this way, how you plan to use the curriculum, a particular appreciation, etc.
- If you chose to complete Assignment #2 for week 6, please share one concrete action you’ll take in the realm of teaching (or preparing to teach) mindfulness to young people.
I’m really impressed with the curriculum and delivery. Although the teachers display such confidence of their knowledge and skill in transmitting lessons, I never lost touch with the idea that we are on the cutting edge of a revolution in early developmental education.
Not having direct experience in teaching youth, I was apprehensive about the reasoning I had in taking the course. I almost immediately felt assured that this was an invaluable step on my intuitive path. “If you’re headed in the right direction, keep walking.” Thus far, when my intentions and attention are set, actions seem to follow. Taking the advice to get the word out there about my involvement and training, taking small proactive steps as appropriate, I’ll see what happens.
Deep bow to the core staff and especially Sarah Waxman for your open, honest and creative feedback throughout the course. Looking forward to what’s down the road.
With gratitude and metta!
Thank you for starting this thread Kari! I’m with the gratitude all the hard work they’ve put into this incredible program and school. Just immeasurable potential from the seeds they/we are planting.
I was on the fence about taking this course at first as I have no experience teaching youth (other than my own). I love the work I’m involved in; guiding meditation in groups and was searching for a path to gain more knowledge and potentially work toward teaching. I have the initial MBSR courses behind me and I must say I feel they are dry and tedious in comparison to the pace and lively delivery of this course. I had a nice conversation with Christina in signing up for the course and decided to keep an open mind and heart about the curriculum and can honest say I fell in love with it right away.
I’ve been listening to Vinny for years and always walk away with something new. It’s been fun and insightful to see him at work with his passion. Megan and Chris = salt of the earth. Smart, hardworking folks that are also very approachable and personable.
Sarah, I especially owe you a huge debt of gratitude for your input during the webinar. I know we only get a brief moment to ask a question and feel I may have been misinterpreted a bit (happens a lot). Without your quick and honest response I probably would have felt even more challenged fitting in here or keeping my hope and energy flowing about continuing on with any level of confidence. I am a self-starter and not afraid to offer what I can (even for free – at first) but certainly not looking to step on any (staff) toes in the process. Deep bow. Thank you. (By the way, I think we may have crossed paths a couple times – if you see me around, holler!).
Have a pleasant holiday. Tons to be thankful for!