Patterson High School Demographic
Patterson High School is a comprehensive community high school with approximately 1100 students, grades nine through twelve. Patterson has a very diverse student population which includes students from a variety of ethnic groups and backgrounds. Our English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program has over 30 countries represented and over 20 languages spoken. Many of the Newcomer students are from conflict areas and are in the US under refugee status. Some are undocumented minors.
The Mindful Moment program has demonstrated its effectiveness in supporting social and emotional well being and academic performance. Demonstrated impacts at Patterson Park High School included:
Overview of Activities and Services
The Mindful Moment, a 15 minute breath work and meditation recording plays every morning at 10:08 AM. During this time instructors visited classrooms on a rotating basis to model the practice with classes. Initially, Mindful Moment instructors rotated between 48 teachers. However, in March we began focusing specifically on 9th grade classes which cut down the number of teachers in rotation to 10. This significantly increased our ability to engage classes as we were able to visit more than one class within a month’s time. Instructors go into classes again during the afternoon at 2:09 PM to lead those classes in the Mindful Moment.
In December 2014, we created the Ambassador Training Program which initially started with a roster of 107 students and ended in June with 34. This number does not include Seniors who have already graduated. We also began partnering with various programs within Patterson High School. Mindfulness is one of the components of the ROTC Program. In March we began partnership to provide 15 minutes of mindfulness in the beginning of every ROTC class on Fridays. The Homeland Security pathway has also partnered with our program, and has participated in seven 90 minute classes during their physical training period. Other partnerships this year have been with the school social workers, Pharmacy Tech, Art, and Nail Tech classes, PGC, the school nurse, the testing coordinator, Psychology class, Patterson for Peace, Ms. Green (senior class advisor), and Ms. Brown (guidance counselor).
Full 60-90 minute mindfulness classes have been offered since November, but we began actively scheduling classes in February.
Mindful Moment Room
The Mindful Moment room is an oasis of calm that is available at all times during the day. Students have the opportunity to self-refer to the Mindful Moment Room, or teachers may send distressed or disruptive students for individual assistance with emotional self-regulation. The Room is staffed by HLF Workforce Development participants, some of whom are graduates of the Holistic Me afterschool program. Partnerships have been formed with the school social workers, nurse and school psychologists who often refer students to the Mindful Moment room regularly for assistance with anxiety, stress, headaches, stomach issues or emotional distress.
When a student enters the Mindful Moment Room, they sign in the visitor log andare assigned a Mindfulness Instructor. Many students have built relationships with our instructors and may request a specific instructor who is already familiar with them or their situation. The structure that we have adopted for best practice for handling student referrals has been 5 minutes of targeted discussion, and 15 minutes of mindfulness practice. The mindfulness practice is chosen based on the needs of the student at the time of referral or by student request. Most often students are led through a series of breathing exercises but some scenarios may call for yoga. After 20 minutes in the Mindful Moment Roomstudents are given a pass to return to their class. On occasion students are kept longer depending on the severity of their situation.
In an effort to foster a culture of mindfulness within Patterson High School our staff began offering full 60-90 minute mindfulness classes. Initially we began offering teachers with particularly difficult and rowdy classes the opportunity to bring their class into the Mindful Moment Room for a full introductory class in mindfulness as a concept and practice. The overwhelming response to these classes were positive and we began offering these classes to all teachers. The full classes give students tools and skills for peaceful conflict resolution, improved focus and concentration, greater control and awareness of thoughts and emotions, improved self-regulation, as well as stress reduction and relaxation. The curriculum for these classes is based on yoga, meditation, breathing, tai-chi, centering, and other mindfulness techniques. Through these classes we have seen increased awareness of Mindfulness as a practice within the culture of Patterson. Students who have attended full classes report that they have used the techniques to help with sleep regulation at home, anxiety before testing, self-regulation, and conflict resolution. We have also seen an increase in Ambassadors directly from interest garnered in the full classes. To date we have taught 28 full classes reaching 280 students.
In December 2014 we began the Mindfulness Ambassador Training Initiative. The Purpose of this initiative is the following to progressively train students to be able to lead Mindful Moment, build a confident Mindful Ambassador through encouragement and training, teach students to lead the Mindful Moment under guidance of MM Staff, encourage Ambassadors to lead the MM alone consistently, and foster a student led culture of Mindfulness within Patterson High School.
Mindfulness Ambassadors meet daily during their homeroom period for 30 minutes beginning December 1. Ambassador Training began with 78 students who consistently attended training until Christmas Break. After Christmas break we were left with approximately 30 consistent Ambassadors, but due to word of mouth amongst students at Patterson, and the full classes we brought our numbers back up to 48 by the end of the school year. In January 20 Ambassadors attended a mindfulness retreat in January with the staff of the Mindful Moment at Patterson High School and the Founders of the Holistic Life Foundation. Mindful Moment Ambassadors as well as staff partnered with Patterson for Peace in Violence Prevention Week. Our Ambassadors began tracking their own engagement within their first period class using an Engagement tracking form that was signed by their first period classes. Beginning in March, we began focusing our efforts on the 9th grade classes and Ambassadors joined staff in visiting 9th grade classes to model the practice as the Mindful Moment recording played in the morning. Ambassadors led faculty in breath work and meditation within the March Faculty Meeting. We have also begun tracking the attendance and progress reports for our Ambassadors. Most Ambassadors have either maintained their grade level or increased their grades with only 3 students whose grades have decreased. The Ambassadors ended their year with a trip to Ocean City where although the weather was cold and misty, 21 Ambassadors attended and nearly all of them plunged into the ocean.
9th Grade Focus
At the start of the year our focus was providing an instructor to model the Mindful Moment for each first period class. With 48 first period classes this presented a challenge for scheduling instructors to visit all 48 classes. Each class would have two instructor visits per month. This created opportunities for students to easily fall back into old habits of ignoring the practice when instructors were not in their classroom. We needed a more focused group toward which to direct of efforts and since the 9th grade group is the newest to the practice, they were the obvious choice. We began visiting each 9th grade class at least 3 times a week.
The Administration allowed our Ambassadors to join the effort by convening in our room at 10:00 AM and joining staff to model the Mindful Moment within the 9th grade classrooms. One of our strongest Ambassadors, Christopher Bowman, led other Ambassadors into 9th grade classrooms like our instructors. With Christopher, and the Mindful Moment Staff we were able to cover each 9th grade class twice a week, and some 3 times a week as there are only ten 9thgrade first period classes. This made a significant difference in the behavior of the 9th grade classes during the Mindful Moment time. This also increased our interaction with the 9th grade teachers as we were now seeing them at least twice a week in the morning and afternoon. Many of our Ambassadors are from the 9th grade cohort so we expect buy in to increase next year as we focus on both 9th and 10th grade.
In 2014, Patterson students and teachers have increased their involvement with the program, with students demonstrating enhanced interest in learning about yoga. Teachers and staff are visiting the Mindful Moment room comparatively more frequently; as such, greater support is being generated for students at all levels. 2014 also marked the first year the program has been offered with elementary-aged students. The expansion built upon a well-established relationship with Robert W. Coleman Elementary School and should ensure an increased impact on the staff and students of this school and the immediate community.
The Mindful Moment (MM) recording is played twice daily at about 8am and 2pm. MM staff members are present in a classroom for the duration of the 15 minute practice making sure that student engagement is high. Each staff member has 3-4 assigned classes that they are responsible for visiting daily, and give two engagement scores daily to each class weekly.
These engagement scores are also used to acknowledge classes that have outstanding participation, through the weekly presentation of “Mindful Masters’” trophies. For these purposes classes have been split into three groups (see engagement scores tracking chart). Average scores are also calculated over the year to determine the winners of the end of the year Mindful Masters’ party.
Students have become increasingly competent in the practices used during the Mindful Moment as the year has progressed, to the point where students can easily apply these practices when asked to do so during the day.
Mindful Moment Room
This room serves as a ‘cool down’ or ‘calm down’ room for children who are upset, or otherwise being disruptive in class. Teachers as well as other staff can refer students to this room, and students can also refer themselves with the permission of their supervising adult.
Once brought to the MM room students are taken through centering practices (e.g. belly breathing, the bell game) and to deescalate emotionally. MM staff engage students in dialogue about incident that led to the referral, with an emphasis on what emotions the student felt or is feeling. Finally, staff and students will come up with a plan to help students use mindfulness techniques to address similar situation in the future, or to ‘reset’ emotionally to continue on with their day. These visits tend to last about 20 min, although occasionally students who teachers feel are too disruptive to be in class will be kept for longer periods.
Students have, in most cases, shown visible signs of relaxation and emotional de-escalation after guided practices in the MM room. Furthermore, teachers and other support staff have continued to bring children to the MM room (commonly referred to as the “calm down room”) as a first resort when dealing with upset/disruptive students, thereby endorsing the value of this service.
Daily Yoga Classes
Throughout the year we have taught three 45 minute yoga classes a day, five days a week. These classes take place in the school library, and each of the schools 15 classes attends one yoga class a week. Below is a general outline of the structure of these classes(see “yoga class template” at end of document for a more detailed breakdown)
Centering breath practice > Special breathing techniques >Asana practice > Concluding silent reflection
During these classes we identify “mindful masters” (students who demonstrate high engagement), who are then allowed to practice in front of the class on their own yoga mats. This serves as an incentive for students to remain engaged throughout the class, and encourages leadership behavior. Occasionally we also do special activities that are considered a reward for getting through class with high participation. An example of this is “pizza pose” where students use a yoga pose (straddle forward bend) and their imaginations to make a pizza step by step. These interactive exercises are especially useful with younger classes (pre-k through 2nd grade).
During the morning periods (after the morning mindful moment to the beginning of the first yoga classes at 11am) staff members visit their assigned classes to check in with students who teachers/administrators have identified as needing special attention, and otherwise support teachers in the classroom. Examples of staff duties during this time include:
Since implementing these classroom visits, referrals to the MM room have decreased noticeably, suggesting that these early morning interventions/staff visits have helped prevent issues later in the day.
Program Stats and Numbers Served
On average MM staff has taught 12-15 yoga classes per week (varying based on teacher’s cancellation of class resource time, special school activities, and school holidays.) A total of 280-345 students receive yoga class services every week.These students cover all grade levels at RWC (Pre-K to 5th Grade).
TOTAL: 352 students
Mindful Moment Room Visits
This number is most definitely an underestimate of the actual number of students that have been served in the MM room. Despite frequent reminders of the importance of tracking students accurately, staff members have often failed to do so. I am certain that the actual number is well over 400. Furthermore the lower numbers of students entering the room during December, January and February is likely due to the number of holidays and weather related school closing that occurred during those months. The final decrease seen in April and March coincides with a much greater push to have staff fully engaged in the morning period through class visits.