Mindfulness With Ann Brand

APRIL 1ST 2016

As the program specialist for mindfulness with AIM, I have the opportunity to visit SDMA elementary schools to support and guide educators in implementing the Mind Up curriculum. Mind Up is a research-based curriculum built upon the pillars of developmental neuroscience, mindful awareness, positive psychology, and social emotional learning. It teaches skills and tools at the foundation of optimal development, behavior, and learning, both to students and teachers.

Over the past couple months, I have been visiting classrooms around the district, observing how mindfulness has been integrated into the classroom. The teachers and students have amazed me with the creative ways they have been practicing mindfulness and integrating the practice with the academic content being learned. Kindergarteners are learning about the different parts of their brain and how they can calm the amygdala with mindful breathing so their prefrontal cortex can come back online and help them solve problems, focus on their work, and store new information in their hippocampus. First grade students are learning about kindness and gratitude and practicing mindful action in their community by writing thank you notes to police officers. Second grade students are learning about how their minds and bodies work together through using their body and other objects to understand the importance of focusing your attention for balance. And fourth grade students are making connections between observing the information coming in through all five senses and focusing their attention on the task at hand.

It has been such an honor to support SDMA teachers and students as they integrate these new skills into learning and the classroom culture. One teacher noted that the MindUp curriculum offers one of the most important set of tools and skills that she has seen in her 30 years of teaching. Stay tuned as we continue to cultivate these tools in classrooms around the district.

Ann E. Brand, Ph.D.
Mindfulness Specialist, A.I.M.