Volume 1, Issue 11 | October 2021
HeartMind e-News: Teach, Learn, Lead
A monthly publication dedicated to trauma-informed, compassionate school practices that help educators, students, and families move toward a sense of wholeness and well-being
Poverty, Mindfulness, and Antiracism
As teachers and students return to school, we are struck with the depth of stress and trauma that many are facing. Hunger and food scarcity are an ongoing concern, as is racism, and the injustice that families of color experience.

In this month’s HeartMind eNews, we provide more information on the magnitude of the impacts, as well as recommendations from experts such as Ibrahm Kendi and Sharon Salzberg. While much remains to be done at the societal level, schools can intervene with mindfulness to mitigate against some of the impact of poverty on cognition and social emotional functioning. Schools can also further attitudes and practices of caring, help raise consciousness to reduce implicit bias, and use antiracist materials and books.

Learn more about the research behind our recommendations and recommendations from others who have implemented some promising practices. Then we invite you to consider plans of action for specific steps you can take at your school, realizing that you may feel some discomfort as you consider and implement steps to overcome long-term biases and practices.
Featured Articles
Our HeartMind e-News connects the relationship of heart centered learning and mindfulness to current research and circumstances. Our goal is to provide our readers with concrete opportunities to further implementation of heart centered practices in their schools and districts. These opportunities will include suggestions for reflection, journaling, dialoguing, and compassionate classroom activities. These exercises often start with adults, working on our own knowledge and skills, before we turn to students.
Mindfulness: Combatting the Impact of Poverty
Emily L. Squyres, CEI Intern, and Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director
While we have all been impacted by COVID, we are particularly concerned about the stressors faced by children living in poverty. Even though stimulus payments and rent/mortgage deferments have helped, individuals living in poverty continue to deal with job insecurity, unemployment, food scarcity and hunger, housing concerns, and greater exposure to COVID, and childhood poverty can leave lasting impacts on children's brains.

The use of mindfulness-based interventions in schools during early childhood can mitigate some of the lasting negative impacts. One program, MindUP, founded by the Goldie Hawn Foundation, shows promising outcomes.

Getting Uncomfortable: Antiracism and Mindfulness
Orinthia Harris, CEI Intern, and Jillayne Flanders, CEI Executive Deputy Director
When practicing and teaching mindfulness, it seems incongruous to lead with “get uncomfortable,” but to address antiracism for educators, children, and their families, that's exactly what we should do.

Through the summer of 2020, amidst the surging covid pandemic, the injustice of George Floyd’s murder was still in the forefront of our minds. There was no ignoring the blatant racism of his death, and educators and academics reprioritized their work to address white supremacy, the true racist history of the United States, and the developmentally appropriate methods needed to bring honesty and clarity to our work in schools. Creating antiracist spaces and transmuting trauma into resilience requires mindfulness.

At the Center for Educational Improvement, we turned to our mindful practices to develop child-focused antiracist interventions starting with our youngest learners. Read more here.
Upcoming Events and Announcements

'Stress, but Less'

Early this month, CNN launched a new series, Stress, but Less, 'a free, 6-part newsletter course aimed at teaching you how to manage stress and even harness it to become more resilient.'

The course cites research by Kelly McGonigal - our September featured author, and writer of The Upside of Stress.

Visioning Support for Schools
If your school or district would like support with visioning, CEI is now offering technical assistance through three, 90-minute visioning sessions where we lead your team through visioning exercises. Visioning can be school or district-wide or it could be conducted as a pilot activity with a Core Learning Team.

To apply, contact Dr. Mason at chrismason@edimprovement.org or through the link below.
Turn vision into reality, possibilities into plans, and create an environment that strengthens engagement, provides safe and nurturing learning opportunities, and produces students with the skills, knowledge, and disposition to be successful in life.

Check out Cultivating Happiness, a new book by Dr. Christine Mason, Jeffrey Donald, Krishna Kaur Khalsa, Michele M. Rivers Murphy, and Valerie Brown.

Here's what readers are saying:

An excellent, informative, and well-researched book. This is a must-read for all future and current teachers, counselors, and administrators. The book is well organized and without question one of the best books written on the topic. The book is a valuable guide to improve teacher training, schools, and personal happiness. Cultivating Happiness and Well Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement will be added to my classes’ reading lists.
Dr Sandra McElroy, Professor of Early Childhood Learning
Pine Manor Campus, Boston College

I am so excited to hear that Cultivating Happiness will be available to practitioners across K-12 settings. Chris Mason and her colleagues share practical, sensible, and you can "do today" strategies in a beautiful way that adds a spirit of calm at a much needed time in schools. Educators looking for a compassionate approach to supporting their students in a developmentally appropriate and engaging way, need to look no further- you found your resource.
Dr. Susie DaSilva, Superintendent of Schools
Ridgefield, CT

Learn more about Dr. Mason’s recent and upcoming books and availability on her website www.christine-mason.com