Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mindfulness Trickle Up - From Afterschool to School

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
We have been promoting the use of mindfulness techniques in afterschool to address the self care of youth workers and the needs of youth participants. Mindfulness is well aligned with social emotional learning (SEL).

There is new information and growing evidence that confirms that mindfulness exercises within school and afterschool settings are excellent ways to promote the health and well-being of adult staff and increase impulse control and ability to stay focused among youth who participate in the exercises. 

Over the years, we have conducted trainings for the Riverside County Office of Education and Delano Union School District. We have posted interviews with Ken Dyar and Allison Haynes on their experience of Mindfulness in Afterschool.

Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz
We were thrilled when Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz, Student Assistance Program Coordinator at Riverside Unified School District, requested training for her in-school staff. This was a great example of "trickle up" -  from afterschool to school day.

Below Dr. Roy Schanz responded to a couple of questions for this blog post.

Q: Why are you bringing mindfulness into Riverside Unified School District?

A: The primary target group for this mindfulness training are our Student Assistance Program (SAP) Counselors and SAP Behavior Support Teams. We are hoping to add another skill set for them to use in their work with students. Additionally, adding mindfulness to their self-care practice will help the team both personally and professionally.

Photo Credit: http://www.theidproject.org/

Q: What are you hoping that you can accomplish with mindfulness training for school personnel? 

A: The research around mindfulness in schools prompted our decision to provide this training for our Student Assistance Program team. They will then take their learning to the staff and students at their respective schools. We’re hoping that by implementing a mindfulness practice, we will see decreases in anxiety and improvements in self-awareness and social-emotional skills, among other positive changes.

Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz is the Coordinator of the Student Assistance Program with Riverside Unified School District. Dr. Roy Schanz has been an educator for 21 years. She has served as a school counselor, assistant principal, and principal. Dr. Roy Schanz holds two Master’s degrees, one in School Counseling from the University of La Verne and the other in Educational Administration from California State University, San Bernardino. Additionally, she earned her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne.

Temescal Associates developed a 16-week curriculum for afterschool workers as well as a two-day training for school and afterschool staff. You can view the curriculum here and contact us if you wish to purchase a full color hard copy.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ignite Learning with a Growth Mindset!

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
We know from research that fostering growth mindsets in young people can promote very positive outcomes. Last year, we sponsored a Speaker’s Forum in Oakland, CA featuring Eduardo BriceƱo, Co-Founder and CEO of Mindset Works. We also sponsored a Speaker’s Forum in Los Angeles with Jacquie Beaubien, Senior Program Manager at Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS) at Stanford University. 

Much of the Growth Mindset research  comes from Dr. Carol Dweck. You can view her 10-minute TEDTalk video, which has been viewed nearly 6 million times, by clicking below. 

We recently worked with our Central Valley colleagues (Central Valley Afterschool Foundation, California Teaching Fellows Foundation, and Visalia Unified School District) to host a Speaker’s Forum entitled “Ignite Learning with a Growth Mindset!”. Below is an interview with our presenter, Emily Diehl, Director Professional Learning and Curriculum Design at Mindset Works. 

Q: Very briefly, can you describe what we mean by "growth mindset" and "fixed mindset"? 

A: Fixed mindset: the belief that abilities and intelligence are fixed and unchangeable
Growth mindset: the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed our whole lives

Q: Afterschool, or as it is sometimes referred, expanded learning, is still growing. Conservative estimates state that there is well over 10 million young million in these programs. Do you think that these informal settings are good ones to promote the idea of growth mindsets?

A: Any setting where students are with adults and peers who create a sense of belonging and help students build a strong sense that they can develop and grow is a great setting for promoting a growth mindset. These informal settings might be particularly helpful in that they tend to be lower stakes as far as achievement goes and so students are able to experience growth and reflect on their process to achieve that growth, without as much fear of failure.

Q: As our understanding of the needs of youth and afterschool research and literature expands, there is increased pressure on afterschool programs to do more - there are a large number of frameworks and related program practices which results in growing demands on afterschool staff. Does promoting growth mindsets require a complex set of practices? 

A: No, I would not say it's complex; however, it is not easy. The changes we make to be more growth-minded can seem very simple, but what might seem simple is not because we have to re-learn our responses and assumptions. Changing those beliefs and responses takes time, reflection, self-awareness, and practice. What's more our emotions and desires can get in the way. An example of emotion getting in the way is embarrassment for making a mistake. We are less likely to risk trying new approaches if we think we will fail in front of others rather than knowing that the only way we can grow is by taking on challenges. Thus, we might know we can grow, but avoid growth opportunities because we want to avoid embarrassment.

Q: For afterschool leaders who are interested in ensuring that their programs promote growth mindsets, what do you recommend? Where should they start? 

A: There are two great places to begin which many educators have found to be a successful first step. First is to change our feedback to students from person-centered praise ("You are so talented!") to process related feedback or questions ("I noticed you didn't stop when it got tough!"). We have a great deal of resources for this on our website and Twitter. The key is to think about the messages we send when we tell people they are smart when they do things perfectly and without trying very hard. That sends a message that smart people don't try hard and don't make mistakes. The opposite is true. So switching up that message to one of taking on a challenge, even if I might fail, because I will learn a lot, is the key to cultivating growth mindsets.

A second place to begin is to talk about the brain as malleable and changeable. Talk about how our brains change with practice - whether we are practicing "good" or "bad" habits - and we can re-map our brains all the time with effective effort.  This helps place growth in a student's internal locus of control - "the things I do and have control over can make me smarter".  This creates hope. There are many resources available on our website and other places for help promoting this message.

Emily Diehl
Emily is Director of Professional Learning and Curriculum design at Mindset Works. Mindset Works provides in-person, digital and printed growth mindset training and resources to thousands of schools. Mindset Works helps teachers and students enable a world in which people seek and are fulfilled by ongoing learning and growth. Emily has spoken at numerous schools, districts, events and conferences for educators, students and district leaders. She supports schools across the country in implementation of mindset programs and professional learning sessions. She has contributed a great deal to the Brainology programs as well as educator programs such as MindsetMarker™ and LeaderKit™. She is editor of the Mindset Works blog and online newsletter. Twitter: @emilyadiehl