Mindfulness sticks for a second year

Lessons will become less frequent in plan for future DAM time goals

Kate Inge, Staff Reporter
Originally published June 8, 2018


At the beginning of the school year, Administration implemented the Mindfulness program by giving teachers weekly lessons about kindness, meditation and other topics. With mixed reviews from both students and teachers, the program is up for change, possibly bearing credits in the future.

Next year students should expect to still see Mindfulness, but not every week. Principal Keven Wynkoop and Assistant Principal Carrie Burr continue to negotiate plans for the next few years. “The difference might be in the frequency of Mindfulness,” said Wynkoop. “I think it would be silly for us to want it for only one year, but we can certainly make some tweaks to it to make it feel right.”

Credit bearing advisory is the end goal in the next few years and is to help students with the new 24 credit requirement. Wynkoop hoped to implement it next year, but has decided against it. “That was the original plan but there are still too many uncertainties,” Wynkoop said. “Like how much time and what type of lessons would need to be incorporated, so currently the plan is to use next year as more of a planning year.”

Other reasons administration is reevaluating the Mindfulness program is because teachers didn’t always feel confident about the topics they were told to teach. Whether it’s a lesson on meditation or a discussion on race, it is always difficult for teachers to approach important topics in the right way.

“It is challenging for teachers to implement something that they didn’t create,” said Wynkoop. “So a lot of teachers felt stuck between having to invest a lot of time every week into learning the lesson really well so they can do it confidently, or just not putting that time into it because they are so busy and doing it in a way that is haphazard.” Students pick up on teachers’ uncertainties, so a hope for next year is to get teachers well versed in the topics they teach during DAM time.

“Imagine being a teacher who is teaching their content because they love their content,” said Burr. “But now we’re asking them to now teach Mindfulness and then have discussions on race. How do we prepare our teachers to teach it?” Burr said.

Because Mindfulness won’t be every Wednesday, a possible idea was to have other topics integrated in every week. This could either look similar to STAR club’s race and equity videos or having counselors come in and talk about college.

But administration doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as this year. “I can sit here and say it, but the hardest thing is giving our teachers the necessary tools and confidence to teach these things,” Burr said. By providing the right training for teachers, Wednesday lessons can expand to topics other than ones taught this year.

Like we were told at the beginning of the year, bringing in the Mindfulness program wasn’t just about learning compassion and kindness, but aimed to decrease students’ anxiety rates. “I think that we need to do something because the anxiety rate at our school and the suicidal thoughts is alarming,” Burr said. In order to help students, they are choosing to keep the program and hope to tweak lessons to make the information less intimidating.

“I still think that mindfulness is a really important thing for teenagers, and actually for all people at this point,” Wynkoop said. “The pace of lives is so stressful for a lot of folks so having the time to actually slow down, learn about what’s going on in your mind with your body and be able to get smaller is really worthwhile.”