I think that our partnership with the Illumination Institute has been very productive, in terms of reducing teacher stress and student stress and we have real data that supports that in terms of a decline in discipline issues, a decline in things like teacher absenteeism and adult depression as well. The approach of the Illumination Institute in terms of training the teachers first so that they understand the science behind it, coupled with the lessons, has been very powerful and influential on student outcomes.
The curriculum is so practical and useful, all of the schools that we have implemented in Garden Grove have experienced positive feedback that students are calmer, and more able to self regulate, and appear ready to learn.
Illumination Institute’s mindfulness program is so easy to use, whether you are new to mindfulness or have been practicing mindfulness with students for years. You truly can customize it to meet your needs by doing the whole program in totality or using individual pieces. Sometimes I want to guide the lesson myself, while other times I use the audio files provided. It has been a game changer for bringing mindfulness into our school.
I participated in the Mindfulness training about a year ago; that was my first time doing mindfulness. It has been one of the best [workshops] I have been to in my 13 years in the district…I have seen the students who participate in the mindfulness and they really enjoy it.
Something that I want to say about mindfulness is that while it directly benefits you, it also indirectly benefits everyone else around you. When you actually feel grateful for the things you have, and you have self compassion for yourself, then you can finally learn to love others…Or also, gratitude for education. You are not only benefiting yourself by listening to the teacher, getting better grades, scoring well in school. You are also showing appreciation towards your teacher and that they matter. It just creates an all around friendly, welcoming, warm and loving environment.
What I love about the program is that it is self-contained…but it also builds on itself. The ability for a teacher in a public school setting, to use it and tailor it to what’s going on in a particular classroom situation is very user friendly. That has been really helpful. I also think that the brain teaching that goes on in some of the lessons helps my students understand what is going on treats them respectfully in terms of their ability to learn. It’s not just telling them, ‘Hey try this!’ It’s explaining why it’s useful to them and that wins them over.
As the lessons went on, week by week, you could see a difference in them. They were starting to look forward to the lessons. They were starting to realize that it was impacting them and helping them…you could really tell it had an impact on them…I think it’s really good that there is such a variety of strategies because then students can choose what works for them. They can pull from different things. There isn’t a one size fits all. Every kid is so different so it’s nice that there is a variety.
I think the best benefit of mindfulness is it gets me to redirect myself. Therefore I can be more effective with the children. It is great when you see the classes getting a little edgy. You can just stop and redirect them. They get a chance to take a break…And, I like the Illumination’s because …I can do it with the children. I did another program where I had to be the director, and I didn’t get the same benefits as I did when I did the Illumination’s lesson because I can do it with them I can do it with them. I have been teaching 47 years so…mindfulness when it was brought to me, was something that was life changing for me as an educator.