Teachers are often called on to help students manage their emotions, resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions. This kind of social and emotional learning is a key part of fostering a healthy school culture, so KCD has made mindfulness and social emotional learning a focus of the current school year.
During our August in-service, teachers attended workshops exploring how to help students meet their social and emotional needs. In addition to workshops by KCD’s counseling and learning services staff, researcher and educational consultant Allison Aboud Holzer ’96 presented a keynote and workshop focused on encouraging mindfulness in students and teachers as a way to foster self-awareness, emotion management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.
“I see mindfulness as the skill that allows people to be aware of how they feel and how other people feel,” Allison explained. “My philosophy is that mindfulness is the first step in a larger equation of understanding and managing your emotions. At the end of the day, emotional management is a tool that supports students and teachers being at their best in terms of learning and in terms of sustained relationships with each other.”
Allison says that mindfulness is often about simple activities that don’t take a lot of time or practice. “Mindfulness is really about being open and curious and being attuned to the present moment,” she said. “You can practice mindfulness by taking an activity that you do every day, like walking across campus, and committing to being present in that moment—focusing on what you see in front of you instead of thinking about the next thing you have to do.”
Despite its simplicity, she believes that mindfulness can have a big impact on students and teachers alike. “There’s a lot of research that it reduces stress and anxiety and depression and has a lot of other benefits,” she said. “When we’re mindful, we can be more empathetic and more aware of other people.”