Our Work with Susan Kaiser Greenland

Our Director of Education Sandy Nobles shares more about our in-depth work with Susan Kaiser Greenland. Read more...

By Sandy Nobles, M.Ed. Director of Education | May 30, 2016
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Here at Momentous School, visitors are constantly touring our school, peeking into classrooms, studying with us, doing observations, or attending our training events. One thing that draws attention from outside visitors is our focus on mindfulness. There’s something really special about walking into an elementary classroom and seeing a group of small children sitting quietly with their eyes closed, participating in a breathing exercise. Or standing on the playground at the end of recess and seeing a class raising their arms in the air and slowly lowering them down with a deep breath.

When visitors ask about mindfulness, I always share about our relationship with Susan Kaiser Greenland. She will be joining us in October for the Changing the Odds Conference, so we wanted to take a moment to tell everyone how we have partnered with her for several years and what we love about her work.

Susan Kaiser Greenland first appealed to us because of her book, The Mindful Child and her “Inner Kids Teaching the ABC’s of Attention, Balance, and Compassion” curriculum. She believes that by learning mindfulness through activities and games, you begin a new way of being in the world. Her activities are perfect for kids – really simple and fun mindfulness games that kids can understand immediately. We first began a year-long study with Susan to strengthen our school-wide implementation of mindfulness practices.

When you work with Susan, you gain a teacher and a friend. She is fully present with you, without judgement, in every interaction, whether in person or online.

But it’s not just that. We are fully bought in to her work. As a school administrator, I am confident that her work is good for our students, faculty, and school culture as a whole. With her research and evidence-based activities and games, I know that we are teaching our students lifelong strategies. With her emphasis on self-care, I know that my faculty is truly “practicing what we preach”.

As in any school, teachers come and go. Over the past few years, we’ve tried to keep the New ABC’s alive by introducing all of our new teachers to Susan’s work each year. But I can sense that lately our awareness and practice as a faculty is not where it needs to be in order to best help the students in our school and be a model for how mindfulness works in education. So, we have started again to formally study with Susan in her Inner Kids course. All new teachers are taking the course, and some veteran teachers have opted-in for a refresher experience.

What has happened is a new excitement and energy about the activities, focusing strategies, and games to support our work in mindfulness. There is a buzz around here as our newest teachers are learning the fundamentals of stopping, choosing, quieting, seeing, reframing, caring and connecting – and we are all reconnecting with a beginner’s mind!

I know it hasn’t been easy for our teachers every single step of the way. With any program, there are hurdles and challenges. But last time Susan came to visit our school, she was meeting with teachers and students, and a young friend in third grade shared his own story about mindfulness. He told us that he practiced his deep breathing at home, and he had even taught his older brother, who was in middle school, how to do it. He said his brother was stressed out from the transition to a new school, so this student made his own chime using a piece of a toy and the metal from his bed frame. He would ring the chime and he and his brother would practice deep breathing to calm down. So while there are challenges when trying to implement a system school-wide, there are so many more successes! This is just one story of many that showcase the impact Susan’s work has had on our school. We are grateful that she has taken the opportunity to join us at our conference this fall so that so many other people will have the chance to learn from her.

If you have any questions about how we use mindfulness at Momentous School, please feel free to leave a comment here or email blog@momentousinstitute.org and I will answer it.