Courageous Schools: Teaching & Leading in Tough Times

teacher's sharing 3

teacher’s sharing 3

Last week I greatly enjoyed & benefited from attending Mindfulness in Education’s 2014 conference, with about 200 others. Besides participating and learning, my task was to film the presenters; fortunately that was successful. At the moment my eyes are a bit tired from hours of editing. Below is a 3 minute mindful ed teaser clip for your enjoyment featuring Congressman Tim Ryan, Miribai Bush, Mark Greenberg, & 3 fun guys from Holistic Life Foundation. Their full presentations are now ready will be on-line at soon. And I’ll write more about the speakers and conference in the next post. In this post I’ll share about Courageous Schools: Teaching and Leading in Tough Times one-day workshop, part of the Courage in Schools Initiative of the Center for Courage & Renewal. This day course introduced educators to approaches for personal and professional renewal and to practical applications that bring reflection and informal mindfulness practices into classrooms and support the building of relational trust in the adult community of school.

It was nourishing for me to be among teachers enhancing interpersonal skills of deeply listening and speaking with clarity and kindness. Studying the 3 R’s: relationship, reflection and renewal. Seeing clearly how all benefit when we take even better care of ourselves through mindfulness and contemplation, while also having aspirations of caring for others, whether colleagues, students, or parents. Starting now, taking a deep, calm breath and relaxing after each paragraph.

I felt a bit shy when getting into my small trust group to share some deeply personal childhood issues. Fortunately the other two went first, which then help me develop ease and trust, thus be open and honest in that moment with two strangers. I paused and reflected on how long does it take to really trust another? How long just to trust myself? This Parker Palmer training program offered useful touchstones which helped guide our interactions, including:

  • Be as present as possible for ourselves and others
  • Receive and extend welcome
  • Believe that it is possible to emerge refreshed, surprised & less burdened than when we came
  • No fixing, no saving, no advising, no correcting each other
  • When the going gets rough, turn to wonder

Later in cafe-style groups of 8 we discussed issues with such underlying themes as injustice and discrimination. The discussion and listening process helped create understanding and empathy towards each other. For me this day watered seeds of trust within, and without, creating hope. Lastly we reflected on 5 Habits of the Heart:

  1. Understanding that we are all in this together.
  2. Appreciation of the value of “otherness.”
  3. Ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
  4. A sense of personal voice and agency.
  5. A capacity to create community.

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.
If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step


32 thoughts on “Courageous Schools: Teaching & Leading in Tough Times

    1. smilecalm Post author

      great point, Jeff. if no teachers are currently offering mindfulness, perhaps the school administrators can be offered some kind guidance highlighting calmer and more focused classrooms!

  1. harulawordsthatserve

    This sounds like wonderful work. Thank you for participating in, and offering service to, such a life affirming initiative – and for sharing it with us:-) A post full of Hope – hooray! Hugs, Harula xxxx

  2. Val Boyko

    Thank you David for being the bridge into a world that supports and enlightens children. This is where the seeds of living fully and peacefully are sown.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      i’m happy that the words and images offer connection, Eric!
      all the speakers were an inspiration to keep up the good mindfulness work in class
      as you are doing with the musical grooves. 🙂
      they are uploading now.

  3. Vicki

    Sounds like a very worthwhile conference message – shame all schools didn’t benefit from the messages being taught.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for kindly commenting.
      slow and steady schools across the country
      are finding the benefits of mindfulness for staff and students.
      we can encourage school boards to consider the benefits of calm, focused classrooms 🙂

  4. ShethP

    Things can be made so much more easier by sharing, be it our feelings or opinions. The quote at the end is truly inspiring. Thank you for posting this! 🙂

  5. jilrob

    Sounds like a great conference; I wish I had known about it. I actually teach a course at AU, but I don’t remember seeing anything about this. Look forward to reading more.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for your kind words. the next post will include the congressman’s address and vimeo page of other speakers. I really enjoyed walking around the friendly AU campus!

  6. Carl D'Agostino

    Taught high school history 33 years here Miami. Attended many workshops like this and they were all refreshing and cohesive in that teachers felt like a community. One thing that I really bought into in a system where 3/4 of high school 2-5 years below grade level is that one does not merely teach subject matter – every teacher is a reading and writing teacher.


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