What is Embodied Teaching?
Embodied Teaching™ is a mindful education training program for school teachers, conducted in their own classrooms. Mindfulness training programs are being adopted by more and more schools, both primary and secondary. These programs tend to be practice oriented, directed solely toward either teachers or students, without full recognition of the classroom context and leveraging of the vital connection between teachers and their students.
Although several mindfulness training programs do encourage teachers to develop their own mindfulness practices with the idea that doing so will make them more effective at teaching mindfulness to their students, there remains a disconnect between learning personal mindfulness skills and successfully implementing those skills in the classroom, specifically with respect to transferring those skills to students and generally with respect to creating a mindful environment for learning, that is, creating a mindful classroom.
We believe that successful implementation of a mindful education program is marked by a holistic integration of mindful awareness in the classroom, not only during “mindfulness lessons,” but evidenced by the attitudes, interactions, and resiliency of teachers and the school that has revolutionized its culture as a direct result of adopting such a program.
Embodied Teaching™ is unique in its focus on the role of the teacher/student connection for making mindfulness training effective at improving students’ educational experiences and outcomes. It is predicated on three fundamentals.
- Children are still learning many skills taken for granted in adults – It may seem obvious, but it is profoundly unrealistic to expect children to stay focused and concentrated on individual meditation practices with which even adults often struggle, including something seemingly as simple as watching the breath. Mindfulness training for students must teach to their level, and must incorporate strategies for keeping students engaged, but care should be taken not to reduce it to triviality or mere entertainment.
- A classroom is not a meditation center – Most well-known meditation techniques are primarily silent and private, that is, whatever meditation technique is used, it is performed in silence by an individual who is not interacting in any way with others, besides perhaps listening to a guided meditation. As observed above, this may be difficult for children. It also fails to acknowledge and take advantage of the classroom setting. Students in a classroom are used to, and even expect, interaction with each other and especially their teacher. Embodied Teaching™ acknowledges this reality and embraces it by adapting traditional individualistic meditation techniques to a group setting and operationalizing mindfulness concepts in highly interactive, innovative ways.
- The ultimate goal is a mindful classroom that fosters improved educational experiences and outcomes – Creating a mindful classroom requires that the principles of mindful education are embodied in the teacher in the form of attitudes, interactions and resiliency. Research in Educational Psychology emphasizes the crucial role of these factors on the classroom environment. Embodied Teaching™ fosters such embodiment by direct involvement of the classroom teacher in mindfulness training with the teacher’s students by the Embodied Teaching™ instructor. The Embodied Teaching™ instructor models the attentive, patient interaction with the student, confidence in the process, and fulfillment in the present moment which are at the heart of mindful education.