Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. from r/science
Eight weeks to a better brain
a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany.
Amishi Jha, a University of Miami neuroscientist who investigates mindfulness-training’s effects on individuals in high-stress situations, says, “These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training.
researchers from Penn State say can be as stress-inducing as an emergency room. Teachers enter such an an environment every day, which sometimes feels like life-or-death.
nonprofit program Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE)
half of the students in schools across America have experienced some form of trauma, violence or chronic stress.
After collecting data on those educators’ well-being, observations of classrooms and student behavioral reports over the course of a year, we found that teachers who received emotional regulation training were more emotionally supportive, demonstrated greater sensitivity to student needs, and provided more positive and productive classroom environments. Furthermore, when assessing teachers’ stress levels, those teachers noted considerably less distress, and an improved ability to manage their emotions.
In the face of stressful situations, I instead used techniques like deep breathing and mindful walking to calm my body and mind, gaining that heightened self-awareness to thoughtfully respond to the issue at hand.
more on stress in this IMS blog
Educators Are More Stressed at Work Than Average People, Survey Finds
By Madeline Will on October 30, 2017 3:25 PM
The survey, released by the American Federation of Teachers and the advocacy group Badass Teachers Association on Monday, included responses from about 5,000 educators. It follows a 2015 survey on educator stress—and finds that stress levels have grown and mental health has declined for this group in the past two years.
more on stress, mindfulness in this IMS blog
Harper, A. (2019, April 2). Reducing teacher stress may require multiple strategies. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from Education Dive website: https://www.educationdive.com/news/reducing-teacher-stress-may-require-multiple-strategies/551604/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202019-04-02%20K-12%20Education%20Dive%20Newsletter%20%5Bissue:20185%5D&utm_term=Education%20Dive:%20K12
- In the face of mounting testing pressures, rapidly changing reform efforts and student circumstances over which teachers feel little control, more than half of teachers consider their jobs to be highly stressful, which is affecting teacher absenteeism rates, retention and student achievement, according to The Hechinger Report.
- There is a growing trend to address teachers’ mental health through stress-reduction and resiliency-building exercises. These include yoga and programs such as those offered by the Center for Resilience, Breathe for Change and mindfulness training offered through Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education. However, these efforts are mere triage and only offer short-term solutions, some experts say.
- Education leaders can offer longer-term solutions that address root issues by providing mentoring support in schools rather than bringing in outside experts, rolling out new initiatives in a more teacher-centered way, and involving teachers in discussions about what works best for students.
But principals also need to build relationships with teachers themselves to create a sense of trust and more open and honest lines of communication. Good teachers are hard to find and losing them to stress is not a good option. Finding ways to solve the issues that are causing them stress and helping them deal with the inevitable pressures along the way is well worth the effort in the long run.
more on stress
Secondary Traumatic Stress for Educators: Understanding and Mitigating the Effects
of American school children have experienced at least some form of trauma — from neglect, to abuse, to violence. In response, educators often find themselves having to take on the role of counselors, supporting the emotional healing of their students, not just their academic growth.
are similar in some ways to post-traumatic stress disorder: withdrawing from friends and family; feeling unexplainably irritable or angry or numb; inability to focus; blaming others; feeling hopeless or isolated or guilty about not doing enough; struggling to concentrate; being unable to sleep; overeating or not eating enough; and continually and persistently worrying about students, when they’re at home and even in their sleep.
One of the handful of studies
of STS in schools found that more than 200 staff surveyed from across six schools reported very high levels of STS.
STS can affect teachers’ happiness, health and professional practice. But Betsy McAlister Groves, a clinical social worker and former faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, says that she has often been surprised by the number of teachers, school counselors and administrators who recognized the cumulative stressors that they faced in their schools but did not realize that their symptoms were a common reaction to working with traumatized children — and that these symptoms had a name.
How Schools Can Acknowledge Secondary Trauma:
Building a Culture of Awareness
Create Peer Groups
Trauma-Informed Schools: School leaders should take a school-wide approach. There is a growing movement around creating trauma-informed schools — schools that recognize and are prepared to support community members affected by trauma and traumatic stress. Such schools deeply integrate social-emotional learning into their teaching, culture and approach, understanding that the holistic health and wellbeing of their charges is essential for achieving academic success.
Resource for teachers and schools
- Assess how your work as an educator might be affecting you (both positively and negatively) by using the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) self-assessment tool and exploring the toolkit created by Teaching Tolerance to learn self-care strategies.
- Learn how, as an educator, you can begin to identify secondary traumatic stress and learn strategies for self care through the tip sheet created by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
- Explore the resources created by the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Advocates for Children and the Harvard Law School.
- How strong are your school’s trauma-responsive programs and policies? Take the 20-minute evidence-informed Trauma Responsive Schools Implementation Assessment to find out — and learn ways to grow your school’s work.
- Learn about additional individual and organization strategies for addressing secondary traumatic stress, compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Stay tuned for a new online curriculum for preK–12 teachers, named STAT (Support for Teachers Affected by Trauma), being created by experts in the fields of secondary traumatic stress, education, and technology. The curriculum, due for a 2019 launch, will feature five modules on risk factors, the impact of STS, and self-assessment, among related topics.
more on mindfulness in this IMS blog
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY IN AN AGE OF ONLINE LEARNING
Paulo Freire and Critical Pedagogy
Freire’s pedagogical concepts, such as problem posing, dialogue, praxis, conscientiazation and the politics of education, were devel-oped in a pre-Internet era. His work in popular education was deeply interpersonal and involved spending significant time in a community becoming familiar with the culture, linguistic patterns, and lifestyle of the people before ever embarking on teaching.
struggles to employ a critical pedagogy in the increasingly assessment-oriented, outcomes-based environment
While designed to make teaching in the online environment more efficient, these systems confront the critical pedagogue with challenges to create a teaching-learning environment that promotes critical reflection not only on the content of a course but on the very way in which content is delivered.
teaching in cyberspace requires a different teaching paradigm altogether
p. 170 Feenberg (2009) developed the Critical Theory of Technology (CTT),
p. 171 As outlined by CTT, technology creates a cyber culture that redefines human identity and the meaning and means of human interaction (Gomez, 2009). When viewed through this lens, online education is not simply another tool for the promotion of learning, but rather an all-encompassing environment managing and controlling access to information, structuring relationships, and redefining individual identities.
p. 171 While masquerading as efforts to enhance student learning, these industries are clearly profit-oriented. Knowledge has become a commodity, students have become consumers, faculty have become content providers, and schools operate as businesses
p. 172 Like Feenberg (2009), Freire would be concerned with the values and principles embedded in the technology of online learning, as well as the cyber culture it has created.
p. 173 Schools did not venture into online learning because they thought it was a better way to teach, but rather because they saw it as a way to reach unreached student populations with the promise of off-site educational offerings. Only later was attention given to developing online pedagogies.
Whereas education in the United States was originally viewed as a way to prepare students for effective citizenship, now it is seen as a way to develop loyal and capable employees of their corporate overlords
p. 174 A second area of concern is the banking nature of the LMSs. One of the underlying assumptions of an LMS like Blackboard™, Moodle™, or Brightspace™ is that the online platform is a repository of resources for teaching and learning.
Freire vehemently rejected this banking approach to education because it did not recognize or encourage the student’s creative, exploratory, and critical abilities. In the banking model the teacher is regarded as the holder and transmitter of knowledge, which is then imparted to the student. The banking model assumes the student is an empty vessel and does not value or recognize the student’s experiential and cultural knowledge
By contrast Freire argued for a problem-posing, constructivist approach that invites students to critically engage their world and one another. In the critical classroom, the student at times takes on the role of teacher and the teacher becomes a learner, inviting a sharing of power and mutual learning. While this approach can be carried out to an extent online, the LMS is set up to be the primary source of information in a course, and the teacher is assigned as the expert designer of the learning experience, thus limiting the constructivist nature and mutuality of the learning process.
p. 175 A third area of concern is the limited access to online learning to large sectors of society. While e-learning advocates tout the greater access to learning provided by online learning (Goral, 2013; Kashi & Conway, 2010), the digital divide is a reality impacting millions of students.
p. 176 A final area of concern is the disembodied nature of the online learning process. One of the major attractions of online learning to potential students is the freedom from having to be in a classroom in a particular time or place.
p. 177 Embodied learning means students must not only engage the cognitive dimension (thinking and reflection), but also partake in concrete action. This action in reflection, and reflection in action, referred to as praxis, involves acting on and in the world as one is seeking to learn about and transform the world.
To limit education to the transmission and reception of text-based knowledge without action undermines the entire learning process (Escobar et al., 1994).
Freire believed dialogue begins not with what the teacher professes to know, but with the student’s experience and knowledge.
p. 179 For Freire, the building of a learning community is essential to creating meaningful dialogue; this is also true for those who seek to teach effectively online. Palloff and Pratt (2007) contend that all online teaching must begin with building community and stress that a carefully constructed online learning community provides a space for students to test ideas, get feedback, and create a collaborative learning experience.
For Freire, learning was a social and democratic event where authoritarianism and control of the learning process are minimized.
“reading the world,” or conscientization, that is, understanding the larger political context in which experience occurs and knowledge is situated. In the current era of Facebook, Twitter, instant message, and other social media, in-depth discussion and analysis is often absent in favor of brief, often innocuous statements and personal opinions.
Through online academic databases, students have easy access to far more sources of information than previous generations. Furthermore, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and the like bring students in contact with remote sources, organizations, and individuals instantly.
p. 180 the challenge is not only the accessing of information, but also encouraging students to become discerning purveyors of information—to develop “critical digital literacy,” the capacity to effectively and critically navigate the databases and myriads of potential sources (Poore, 2011, p. 15)
more on online teaching in this IMS blog
10 Tips to Support Students in a Stressful Shift to Online Learning
By Kelly Field MARCH 30, 2020
- Survey students about tools and platforms.
- Co-construct your class.
- Favor asynchronous approaches.
- Go low-tech and mobile-friendly.
- Share your story.
- Offer support and resources.
- Create opportunities for students to process the moment.
- Don’t forget about students with disabilities.
- Assign self-care, and model it.
McMindfulness: how capitalism hijacked the Buddhist teaching of mindfulness
quote the former Buddhist monk Clark Strand here. This was in a review of your work. “None of us dreamed that mindfulness would become so popular or even lucrative, much less that it would be used as a way to keep millions of us sleeping soundly through some of the worst cultural excesses in human history, all while fooling us into thinking we were awake and quiet.”
corporate mindfulness programs are now quite popular. And as we all know, most employees these days are extremely stressed out. The Gallup poll that came out about four or five years ago said that corporations — and this is in the U.S. — are losing approximately 300 billion dollars a year from stress-related absences and seven out of ten employees report being disengaged from their work.
The remedy has now become mindfulness, where employees are then trained individually to learn how to cope and adjust to these toxic corporate conditions rather than launching kind of a diagnosis of the systemic causes of stress not only in corporations but in our society at large. That sort of dialogue, that sort of inquiry, is not happening.
An integrity bubble is where there is a small oasis within a corporation – for example let’s take Google because that’s a great example of it.
You have a small group of engineers who are getting individual level benefits from corporate mindfulness training. They’re learning how to de-stress. Google engineers [are] working 60-70 hours a week – very stressful. So they’re getting individual level benefits while not questioning the digital distraction technologies [that] Google engineers are actually trying to work on. Those issues are not taken into account in a kind of mindful way.
So you become mindful, to become more productive, to produce technologies of mass distraction, which is quite an irony in many ways. A sad irony actually.
mindfulness could be revolutionized in a way that does not denigrate the therapeutic benefits of self-care, but it becomes interdependent with these causes and conditions of suffering which go beyond just individuals.
more on mindfulness in this IMS blog