Breathing In, Breathing Out
By Linda Noble and Małgorzata Powietrzyńska
This chat is part of the SEL in Action community chat series led by Innovation in SEL grantees from across the country. These casual conversations are designed to provide a safe space for educators to discuss topics that matter most to them, find inspiration, talk honestly about challenges, and co-create solutions.
End-of-Year Reset Strategies
For our last community chat of the 2018-2019 school year, Linda Noble and Malgorzata Powietrzynska led an intimate conversation among educators about holding space for each other. The group spent an hour together practicing mindfulness, exhaling the trials and tribulations of the school year and inhaling with grateful hearts and open minds. Together they considered, “What is required of me to end the school year fully present to the work of educating students?” This chat summary provides an overview of the discussion and links to the shared resources and strategies for mindfulness.
Modeling Landing Points of Light
The chat began with Linda leading the group through Shavayatra. Sometimes called the “61 points exercise,” Shavayatra is a subtle form of relaxation that leads to a very refined state of consciousness. The group took time to reset, focusing on the “Inner travelling through the body,” which is a way to slow down and pay attention to the light and energy within us. To learn more about this practice and to use it as a reset, you might like to reference the 61 points booklet.
Staying Mindful and Connected as Educators
Malgorzata introduced the group to the Holding Space Protocol which outlines how one can enter into any discussion with principles in mind such as “Ask questions that go to the person as well as the problem, questions about the inner realities of the situation as well as the outward facts” and “Ask questions aimed at helping the presenter explore his or her concern rather than satisfying your own curiosity.” This protocol is a great one to reference when setting norms for an open, honest conversation.
The conversation then progressed by diving into a few key questions:
- Why does a session about well-being matter NOW?
- What are ways we are attending to well-being?
- How can we start a conversation about SEL in our schools?
After discussion of these strategies and in closing, the group engaged in an independent free-write. The prompts given were:
- What support do we need?
- What do I notice/need to accept?
- What questions are we mulling over?
- What is one thing we will do this week?
What did we learn from our chat?
- What might this community do after this conversation?
In closing, participants shared their reflections, including statements such as “I feel empowered to do what I came here to do,” and “Taking a moment of being mindful may be in an action.” One participant shared, “In just an hour, I feel so much more calm and relaxed. I feel like I can set my goals. I’m grateful for the reminder to prioritize myself along with everything else in front of me. Even in an hour, it’s a a mind change and that helps a lot. Thank you.”
Resources for Further Meditation and Mindfulness
For any educators who might want to deepen their understanding of SEL, mindfulness, and transformation, here are a few excellent resources shared by the group:
- Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities by Margaret Wheatley
- What is Transformation? by Robert Gass
- SEL Every Day by Meena Srinivasan
About Our Chat Hosts
Sevenzo would like to thank Drs. Linda Noble and Małgorzata Powietrzyńska for leading this community chat. Linda and Malgorzata are teacher educators who share a passion for teaching and learning and who co-teach graduate level courses in the School of Education at Brooklyn College, CUNY. In recognition of their work they received a 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching. While Linda teaches in a NYC public high school, Małgorzata is a manager in a post-secondary educational institution. Linda and Małgorzata co-engage in research focusing on infusing contemplative practices into education and they collaborate on providing professional development workshops in self-care and mindfulness to in-service public-school teachers.