A Professional Development Program for Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Mounting scientific evidence supports mindfulness-based programs help teachers reduce stress and burnout, anxiety disorders and depression, and improve immune function, attention, memory, executive function, compassion, resilience, among other benefits.
Effectiveness of Mindfulness Training on the Well-Being of Educators
From the start of MKM’s collaboration with M-DCPS in the educator-training mindfulness initiative, MKM’s board members took the lead in ensuring that a comprehensive assessment and evaluation component, and a formal research/assessment program, coincided with the implementation of the program.
MKM’s Research Committee, chaired by MKM Board of Directors member Dr. David J. Lee, collaborated with the Research Department at the Center for Mindfulness (CFM), University of Massachusetts Medical School, directed by Dr. Judson Brewer, to implement and manage the MKM – M-DCPS Research Study. The assessment they have implemented includes a longitudinal study over a 48-month period beginning with an extensive pre-training survey of M-DCPS educators participating in the MBSR trainings.
Preliminary results from the 2015-2016 participants who volunteered to participate in the research study indicate significant improvement in mindfulness levels. Two measures of mindfulness were administered: the short form of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the short-form of the Self-Compassion Scale. For both scales overall mindfulness levels increased significantly from pre-test levels. In addition, there were significant increases in sub-scales indicating that educators showed improvement in observation skills, acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reactivity to inner experiences. Higher levels of self-reported mindfulness in response to mindfulness training have shown to be correlated with a range of psychological benefits.
Discounted rates apply for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) Educators plus receive Master Plan Points. In 2015, Mindful Kids Miami launched a groundbreaking Pilot Program with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) where over 200 educators participated in the mindfulness trainings during the 2015-2016 school year.
“After 25 years of teaching, I know that if you can’t transform yourself, you can’t transform your classroom. It’s like a ballet dancer attempting a difficult turn without “centering” herself. If your teaching is an extension of compassion, precision, and wisdom (which are fruits of these practices), it will manifest in everything you do. You will also become a model for your students, so you won’t have to spend too much time “teaching” them these qualities.”
What Teachers Are Saying
“Loving kindness or sending friendly wishes is the most meaningful mindfulness practice that I have implemented in my classroom. Because of the very low language abilities of the students in my class we have simplified the wishes as follows:
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be loved.
We also send these same wishes to others substituting the word ‘you for ‘I.’ We have the friendly wishes printed with accompanying photos of the children in a happy, safe, healthy or loved ‘pose’ and have done several activities in which we have cut out the words to complete a fill-in-the-blank sheet and glued their photos to the sheet. The activities are posted so that the children can refer to them during the day. At various points of the day, sometimes at breakfast, sometimes at circle, lining up to go to the playground, or whenever there is a transition, we send friendly wishes to ourselves and others. The children have begun to use the wishes spontaneously during the day. In situations where in the past a student may have been told, ‘No hitting,’ the alternative ‘May you be safe’ is often enough of a reminder to prevent the aggressive behavior from occurring.
Recently one of the students became upset and started crying about a family situation. The other children embraced him in a group hug and wished him ‘love.’ While that hug will not change the discord at home, I’m hopeful that the love he receives from his friends will help him to cope with his sadness. Practicing loving kindness has truly transformed my classroom and my teaching.”
“I have found the MKM’s mindfulness training to be life-altering. I wish I had incorporated it into my life and work long ago! After completing the 9-week MBSR Program, I experienced a sense of equanimity that became obvious to me and to other people I came in contact with. As a cancer survivor, my oncologist noted on a recent visit my change in attitude, body language and sense of calm. I believe that mindfulness brings benefits to everyone who practices it. It is a simple solution to the complexity of daily life. . . . I have been a teacher for more than 30 years. The MTT has been an exceptional opportunity to gain useful, fun and meaningful skills that I can use with my students.”
“This new sense of slowing down, being in the present, taking it all in, and riding the waves of life, have helped me grow, personally and professionally.”
“The Mindfulness Program taught me how to be aware and connect to the present moment in my daily activities. It also taught me how to be more compassionate with others and reduced my stress level.”
“Bringing mindfulness into my classroom has had a positve impact in my students. More teachers need this training”
“The Mindfulness Program taught me how to breathe easier, walk lighter and think clearer. I will take what I have learned and share it with my loved ones, my students, and anyone who wants to live mindfully.”
“This program has changed my life and the lives of my students. We now begin each class breathing and doing mindfulness movements. I have definitely noticed more calmness within the class.”
“The training was a wonderful experience. I had read about Mindfulness, but going through the actual experience was life enhancing beyond all expectations.”
 Dr. Lee has a Ph.D., and is a professor and researcher at the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
 Dr. Brewer has an M.D., a Ph.D., and is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the UMass Medical School.