March 24, 2015 , Issue #3
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Summer Workshops!


June 22nd-26th

Location: Mayacamas Ranch, Calistoga, CA

Learn More 


July 29th-30th


Location: Westridge School

Facilitator: Ron Ritchhart 

 Learn More 

Teaching Foundations (SF) 

August 3rd-6th


Location: Jewish Community High School of the Bay

 Learn More 

Mastering Group Facilitation (SF)

August 5th-7th


Location: Jewish Community HIgh School of the Bay 

Facilitator: David Barkan

Learn More 

 Mastering Group Facilitation (LA)

August 10th-12th


Location: Windward School, LA

Facilitator: David Barkan

 Learn More 

What is the BATDC?

The Bay Area Teacher Development Collaborative (BATDC), is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional growth opportunities for teachers and administrators from independent schools. Its member schools represent the diverse range of small and large elementary, middle, and high schools from all over the greater San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.

What is the mission of the organization?

The aim of the BATDC is to 1) Promote enriching professional development opportunities, 2) Support collegiality and cooperation among teachers and schools, and 3) Inspire teachers to become educational leaders.

Why does a "Bay Area" organization also operate in Los Angeles?

The BATDC started in the San Francisco Bay Area in the year 2000, and has since grown to include a network of over sixty independent schools in the region. In 2012, a group of LA area heads of school asked if the BATDC could replicate its proven model by launching a branch of its operations in Southern California. Now, following the completion of the two-year pilot program, and with a thriving group of over twenty member schools in Southern California, it might be time to consider a name change! 

How can I take part in the BATDC's offerings?
1) If your school isn't already a member, encourage them to join here

2) Register for our upcoming events, and keep an eye out for our spring schedule of workshops.

3) Get in touch and let us know what kind of professional development opportunities you're looking for.

4) Let us help you leverage the power of the network by connecting you with colleagues from other schools. 

5) Join our mailing list to stay up to date on all our future workshops and events.

Welcome from the Executive Director, Janet McGarvey

It has been fascinating to witness and support the changes that mindfulness training and increased attention to wellness have made in local school cultures over the past decade. Students and faculty are finding a variety of benefits from meditation and mindful practice, including better attention spans and reduced stress. At this time of year in particular, the importance of self-care seems worthy of special consideration. In this third edition of The BATDC Buzz, we focus on a variety of ways that educators can sustain themselves through nourishing their minds, bodies, and spirits.  


We know that self-care is important, but how can we make it a priority? I know I can do much better in this regard. I try to remember these words from Jack Kornfield: "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." Research has amply shown that self-compassion has many clear benefits, including less illness, happier workplaces, and improved focus and productivity.  Recently, a Bay School faculty meeting was devoted to exploring the ways that self-care can be promoted.  Asking, "What do you do to practice self-nourishment?," the faculty developed quite a list of relatively simple and low-cost strategies. Some involve sound (from silence to singing along with loud music in the car) or involve other people (asking for help, cooking with a friend). Other favorites are putting flowers on one's desk, looking at treasured family photos, practicing deep breathing, and eating ice cream. I am sure we each have a favorite, and if you are following trends in this regard, you will have noticed the renewed interest in napping for 20 minutes as a restorative practice. I like that one a lot!


As you read through the articles in this month's newsletter, you'll find information and resources on the use of reflective journal writing to improve mood and change behavior, on a mindfulness practice for both students and teachers from Campbell Hall School, and a model for reducing stress from Dave Mochel from Applied Attention (and our BATDC guest speaker in both SF and LA)."


The ever-relevant Ben Franklin reminds us that, "When the well's dry, we know the worth of water." Here's to keeping the "wellness" from getting dry!

- Janet McGarvey,
  BATDC Executive Director
Take Time to Write!  (You'll Feel Better)
By Crystal Land

"Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are." - Anne Lamott


I've always been a writer: I journal, doodle, draft and redraft. I write by hand in a moleskin journal, on my laptop when I need to edit and revise, at the bottom of to-do lists when I need to scribble an idea, and in the margins of books to record that "ah ha" insight. Much of it is unpolished and in draft form, but, like meditation and eating and sleeping and exercise, it's one more tool to help me make sense of my challenging moments. As a teacher and memoir writer, I intuitively believe that writing helps all of us identify key insights, clarify ideas, better understand the thinking behind a problem and ultimately move forward in productive ways. And while we all may not have the gift of published writing that stands the test of time, research shows that regular personal writing can, as Tara Pope noted in a recent New York Times article, "Writing Your Way to Happiness," help us be happier and healthier.


Academic research also supports the assumptions around this kind of personal writing. According to University of Virginia psychology professor and author, Timothy D. Wilson  (Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change), "Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it." His RSA video explores how, through writing and redirecting one's story (called story editing), we can transform our self-view, change behavior and, well, make the world a better place.


Another well-respected researcher, University of Texas professor, James Pennebaker, has studied this phenomena for years and suggests that writing and, importantly, rewriting with a new direction, can heal those who have experienced trauma. Pennebaker suggests the following:

- Write for about 15 minutes about an upsetting experience without editing

- Write for three or four days in a row

- Be forthright and honest

- Review and see what patterns and insights are gained


Pennebacker's research suggests that through "expressive writing" students change their understanding of old patterns and actually improve physical and mental health.

So, need a reprieve from the stressors of daily life? Take time to write! Anne Lamott sums it up:  "Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do - the actual act of writing - turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."

Simple but Effective Practice: ONACOA
By Dave Mochel, Applied Attention
Dave Mochel explains the concept of "ONACOA" to a group of Bay Area educators during last week's "Be Well. Teach Well" workshop.

Life as a teacher...the internet is down, a student has missed a major deadline again, a parent wants a meeting yesterday, grade reports are due, contract talks are approaching... every day, every week, and every year there are periods and moments of particularly high demand. These can be accompanied by stress, anxiety, and frustration. How you respond-- what you practice-- in these moments has an enormous impact on the quality of your life.    


The elements of an integrated mindful and purposeful practice have been around for thousands of years and are supported by thousands of research studies in human well-being and performance. I call this practice ONACOA (pronounced  oh-nuh-coh-uh ). It stands for Open, Notice, Accept, Commitment, Opportunity, Action. I have taught this practice to teachers, students, parents, athletes, and executives who have found it to be useful in rolling with challenges and returning attention to what is most important in the face of distraction.


This sequence is particularly effective as it shifts activity in the brain from the areas related to survival to the areas related to growth. Because it is unfamiliar, it may seem awkward at first. The wonderful thing about ONACOA, is that it can be practiced a few seconds at a time throughout the day and incorporated into any activity.



Uncross arms and legs, extend your spine, and lift your gaze

On the in breath, relax your stomach and roll your shoulders back

On the out breath, drop your shoulders and smile gently



Bring your attention to the sights, sounds, smells of your surroundings

Beginning with your toes, scan your body for sensations

Bring your attention to the experience of thoughts showing up and passing



Accept the presence of sensations and thoughts

Accept impulses to avoid, resist, or indulge sensations and thoughts

Accept your ability to observe, without acting upon, your internal experience



What is most important?

What is the quality of experience you wish to have in this moment?

What are the relationships, contributions, and goals that matter most?



How is this moment an opportunity?

How can you express your commitments through action?



What is the next, smallest action you will take?

When will you take or schedule this action?


It is human to lose sight of what matters most and to put energy into resisting discomfort. It is also human to take a moment to step back, reorient, and focus one's attention and energy on the quality of experience, relationships, and contributions that matter most to you.  In fact, this ability may be your greatest gift. 
Mindfulness as a Way of Life
By Catherine Siphron, Campbell Hall English Department

Where do your thoughts go? At this moment, what are you focusing on? Are you reading this article, yearning for vacation, or thinking back on yesterday? While earning his Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard, Matt Killingsworth studied happiness. In his TED Talk, he identifies that "...mind-wandering very likely seems to be an actual cause, and not merely a consequence of unhappiness." This profound finding means that we all, at any moment, have access to happiness simply by remaining focused on the present moment.


Twice a week at Campbell Hall, our entire high school student body meets for chapel. Led by our chaplain, each service for the last few years typically began by referring to our school as a "mindful community of inquiry." This phrase acts as an invitation to continually be "mindful" as we approach learning with curiosity, both in and out of the classroom. The Chapel and Center for Spiritual Practice, which includes a meditation room, physically embodies this intention.


This innovative Center privileges inward reflection alongside academic pursuits and regularly hosts retreats and speakers. It is here that I facilitate a weekly faculty mindfulness group. Sometimes the group reports how difficult it can be to focus its attention during moments of introspection; still, we remember our objective: to allow whatever arises to arise and to allow ourselves to be exactly where we are. When first starting to train the muscle of attention, the structure of a group or guided meditations such as those by UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) can be essential.


One faculty member explains: "The more frequently I practice Mindfulness, the more adept I become in handling stress and anxiety appropriately." Another colleague recently shared, "[My sister's] husband passed...and I want to let you know that the wellness meditation we have been doing...has helped center my attention on her needs.  I go outside in the morning and do my meditation, then just let the day unfold."


Our campus also hosts a weekly sitting group for K-12 parents. One parent observes, "My family life has changed as I become more centered and connected.  As I change, my entire family dynamic has changed.  My children are calm, our relationships have improved, and there is just more joy in my house."


Students' requests for greater understanding of what it means to be present led me to create a high school elective about mindfulness. Although this will be the first time a formal class will be offered for credit, our students have been exposed to mindfulness since kindergarten. Students experience the benefits of self-reflection on many levels here at Campbell Hall, whether explicitly studying mindfulness in junior high or as a senior attending a guided meditation prior to a final exam.


When students practice mindfulness, they sleep better, recall information more readily, and improve problem-solving skills. Taken together, these benefits help teens live with greater ease amidst the ever-changing tides and vulnerabilities that come with being a teenager. Even as adults, change is a constant we all face, and this truth makes mindfulness an essential life skill.