Mindfulness, Restorative Practices and Rites of Passages Summer PDI


In 2016, the teachers at CTE were asked to begin exploring and talking about different approaches to strengthen our learning community. We were not asked to discover a new approach or to implement a new initiative; we were simply asked to open our eyes to what is being done in the world of education that is working to develop vital and transformative learning communities. This request was given in the light of a marked increase in the number of behavioral incidents coming to admin and the increased awareness about restorative practices and mindfulness as effective tools. 

Most teachers and students want to create a vital learning community where students feel:
  • engaged and excited to learn.
  • safe to take risks. 
  • supported to begin again after failure.
  • challenged to stretch their abilities. 
Many teachers also hope to influence a student's growth as a human being so that they might be a positive and active part of the greater community in and out of school. This is a tall order and very challenging for the teacher who is working hard to just get the required topics covered amidst an ever-changing, always challenging group of teenagers.

This course was created to explore some fundamental ways to build a vital learning community by exploring the principles and practices of  mindfulness, restorative practices and rites of passage. The goal is to use a teacher's own experiences, strengths and development as a human being and as a teacher to support the intentional creation of authentic community.

The Purpose (Mission)

Team members will explore, reflect on and develop plans related to using Restorative Practices, Rites of Passage and Mindfulness to develop an authentic, vital learning community within the PreTech structure.

Learning Outcomes

  • Team members will have a working understanding of Restorative Practices, Mindfulness and Rites of Passage.
  • Team members will be able to identify aspects of their learning community that might benefit from one or more of these elements.
  • Team members will begin the school year with one small actionable step related to building an authentic and vital learning community.
  • Team members will share out to the CTE community through a presentation and development of this website.
  • Team members will develop and use a tool to assess student growth related to what they chose to implement.

How will CTE Benefit from this Project?

This project fits well with the school wide initiative MTSS.
  • Restorative Practices provides teachers with clear indicators around a student’s possible need for extra support. It also creates a way for classes to be proactive in building a community where challenging dynamics can be worked through before they explode. Studies show an increased sense of connectedness, which provides students with more support.

  • Mindfulness principles practiced by the teacher heightens awareness of potential challenges before they derail a class and increases positive co-regulation for disregulated students. Mindfulness activities provides students with more self-awareness, which could lead them to feel more able to self-report challenges to their support system.

  • Rites of Passage can act as a powerful motivator and community/team builder. Studies show an increased in self-esteem.
Who will the project impact? How will students be impacted by the work?

The project will impact teachers and students. In the short term, this project will provide teachers with the foundational knowledge necessary to develop a plan for further learning and implementation in the classroom. In the long term, greater gains are reflected in the research below:

“Restorative Justice programs in a West Oakland Middle School pilot project eliminated violent fights and expulsions, and reduced suspension rates by more than 75%. [Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth http://rjoyoakland.org/programs/] - See more at: http://peacealliance.org/teachpeace/#sthash.35oSN3mv.dpuf

“Meditation/mindfulness practices in schools have noticeable benefits — studies have shown suspensions decrease by 79 percent, attendance increases by over 98% and academic performance is noticeably increased. [NBC News, Jan. 1, 2015 http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/san-francisco-schools-transformed-power-meditation-n276301] - See more at: http://peacealliance.org/teachpeace/#sthash.35oSN3mv.dpuf

Growth Milestone or Rites of Passage: “Qualitative and quantitative evaluations of ROPE have been conducted since 1982 (Blumenkrantz and Gavazzi 1993). A series of studies with five cohort groups totaling 410 participants revealed positive gains at both the individual and family levels. In terms of involvement with family, the ROPE group showed significant increases of involvement as compared to the control group. Also, the ROPE group reported more positive attitudes toward school than the control group. For drug use, ROPE participants decreased their drug use by 60 percent, while the control group increased substance use by 57 percent. Finally, the ROPE group reported significantly greater levels of connectedness and belonging after ROPE, while the control group had increased levels of alienation. Qualitative findings from youth and parents revealed common themes in the areas of self-confidence, decision making, and commitment to school. Comments included “I can make decisions on what to do and not worry about peer pressure” and “This is the first year my daughter insists on going to school even when she’s ill” (Blumenkrantz and Gavazzi 1993).” https://ncsu.edu/ffci/publications/2007/v12-n2-2007-summer-fall/scheer.php

Teachers will also be impacted by providing them with a broader range of tools to improve the learning environment for students and their ability to manage the challenges that are specific to the PreTech program. “A new study suggests that training teachers in mindfulness not only reduces burnout but also improves their performance in the classroom.” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_mindfulness_make_us_better_teachershttp://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_mindfulness_make_us_better_teachers


What will “explore” look like?

Restorative Practices: We will use Restorative Practices Handbook for Teachers, Disciplinarians and Administratorsand part of the Peace Alliance Restorative Justice curriculum to provide each team member with a broad working understanding of Restorative Practices and the research that supports it. We will also use the text Circle ForwardBuilding a Restorative School Community by Carolyn Boyes-Watson and Kay Pranis published by the Institute for Restorative Initiatives, as well as Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools by Margaret Thorsborne and Peta Blood. I will also share what I have learned through the twenty years I have led circles for different populations. 

Mindfulness: I will be sharing research and resources I have collected through my MEd, Mindfulness for Educators program. Focus will be on how we adapt Mindfulness activities to work with high school students, with a special focus on practices that promote emotional regulation, impulse control and reduced anxiety alongside mindfulness to support the wellbeing of teachers.

Rites of Passage: We will look at research-supported practices that support the healthy development of adolescents through an intentional set of Rites of Passage. We will focus our exploration of the research and work done by R.O.P.E.

Experiential: While most individual time will be spent reading and responding, class time will be used to experience all three approaches.

What will “reflect” look like?

Team members will be asked to:
  • reflect on their own values and beliefs related to building a vital learning community.
  • examine how they currently do or do not create a community in alignment with those values and beliefs.
  • reflect on the values and principles that anchor each of the three approaches.
  • reflect on how these elements already exist in their classroom and practices.
  • examine ways to become more intentional in developing these value and principles.

What will “develop” look like?

Team members will develop a plan to implement one or more “small” aspects of these elements to experiment with in 2016-17 and come up with a protocol for measuring impact on student growth. Emphasis here will be on larger shifts in mindset and pedagogy and smaller shifts in structure or technique. Our plan is to have another PDI through the school year to further flush out our learning by going deeper into topics that seem to suit this milieu and seeking models in other schools to learn more from.

Measurable Outcomes

The “Develop” part of the project includes creating a simple protocol for tracking growth. This will require naming a few indicators that the team decides are reflective of the growth we wish to see. This might be tracking the number of behavior incidents throughout the year. It might be a series of surveys given to the students at different points in the year. The protocol will be dependent on what action steps each team member decides to take for the school year.

Class Work, Individual Assignments and Due Dates

 Done? Assignment Description  Due Date How to Submit hours
 X Sessions 1, 2Visit here for a proposed agenda for 6/13 & 6/14  6/13, 6/14 Meet in M1177.5
 X Reading Response 1Read and Respond to Mindfulness for Educators, Meditation Summit 6/20 Google Groups 1.5
 X Peer Response 1Respond to your group's reading response:
1. Lori, Rebecca, Teresa
2. Dave, Lars, Brian
3. Annie, Caty
 6/27 Google Groups 1
 X Reading Response 2Read and Respond to Circle Forward pp xv -16, 23-32 and Baby Steps Towards Restorative Justice 7/11 Google Groups 1.5
 X Peer Response 2Respond to your group's' reading response:
1. Caty, Lars, Dave
2. Teresa, Annie, Brian
3. Rebecca, Lori
 7/18 Google Groups 1
 X Reading Response 3Read and Respond to Rites of Passage Research and Rites of Passage and the Story of Our Times 7/25 Google Groups2
 X Peer Response 3Respond to your group's' reading response:
1. Lori, Dave,  Caty,
2. Brian, Rebecca, Annie
3. Lars, Teresa
 8/1 Google Groups 1
 X Reading Response 4Choose any other article from the library to read and respond to. 8/8 Google Groups 1.5
 X Session 4Meet with SBJC at 9:30 AM   8/8 Meet at SBJC  5
 XPractice Facilitation    Practice facilitation of Mindfulness, RP and talk about ways to implement ROP. Share learning from final reading selection and discuss. 8/8  Meet at SBJC 2
 X Reflection Draft 1 Understanding, Awareness and Intention reflection written in class. 8/15 Google Docs - Shared with Annie 2
 X Final Reflection Draft Understanding, Awareness and Intention reflection. 8/22 Google Doc and Class Website 2
 X Session 5 Meet in M117 for review and practice. 8/26 M117 2
  Personal Profile Create a short profile of who you are as a teacher now that you've studied these three approaches. Scroll down to read mine as an example.9/6 Class website1
 Teacher Learning StatementsAdd a post to our Teaching Learning page on our class website to reflect  your learning, your plan, resources and your experience (Cutting and pasting from Learning Statements - adding reflections on how it actually went and resources you have found helpful.) Just click "New Post", title it, write your post and "save" it.  Post your Learning 2
 Survey Develop and administer a short survey to assess learning culture in your classroom. Look at the principles and core beliefs on which RP stands and create questions that assess those qualities. 9/1 Caty is making template 2
 PresentationPrepare a presentation with an information, experiential activity and simple take-aways for staff to try. Oct or Nov.Staff In-Service 6
 Session 5, 6, 7

 Weekly experiential and group learning/support for implementation.

8/26 - 2 hrs
4x wkly 1 hr meetings

  Total Hours    45

Sharing Out to the Community

The learning team will contribute to the conversation at CTE and in the district by presenting to the staff and developing this website:
  • Post profile that reflects your current views on these practices.
  • Present with a small team on one of the three approaches.
  • Post team's learning on website.
  • Meet ongoing into the fall for implementation support and introducing others.