The world is changing fast. There’s more information to consume. More connections to manage. More technology to learn.
There is simply more. More things vying for our attention, and this “moreness” doesn’t seem to be going away. More is a mainstay – for kids and adults.
It might sound like a good thing, but in many respects with more things tugging at our attention, we are losing our capacity to focus and achieve what we want. It’s more important now than ever to train our attention, and to help our students do the same.
ATTENTION IS THE NEW CURRENCY
The stoics had a saying, “You become what you give your attention to.” In mindfulness practice we also often say, “Your mind goes where the eyes go.” Attention is the currency of life, and the future, and if we are going to fully prepare our students for the market today, and in many cases for jobs that don’t yet exist due to the rapidly changing pace of technology, we must start with the mind as a foundational element to our educational approach.
MIND TRAINING TAKES, WELL, GOOD TRAINING
A key element in this approach – mind training. Etoile Academy Charter School is leading the way in the future of education by not only teaching students rigorous academics taught by passionate and expert educators, civic-minded values with an entrepreneurial flair, but also with a focus on the development of the self so students receive a well-rounded, whole-child centered education that actually prepares them to meet the demands of the market today, and the unknown future ahead.
In a recent article from Growing Leaders, Tim Elmore indicates that out of the top 10 skills graduates need to succeed, there’s been a unique shift in this list from 2015 to the current list in 2020.
SOFT SKILLS ARE THE NEW HARD SKILLS
While you might think with the rise of technology and artificial intelligence (AI), STEM made it to the top of the list, it did not. The two skills added to the 2020 list that graduates need to succeed are inside out skills, meaning they stem from the mind and heart: cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence.
NATIONAL GUIDELINES AND STATE STANDARDS
The collaborative for academic, social, and emotional learning (CASEL) understands the values of those skills as they’ve been helping make SEL a foundational part in each child’s educational experience since 1994 through their five main guidelines: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships, and responsible-decision making.
Texas is also on board with this educational shift with new legislation passed in 2021 called the Positive Character Traits and Personal Skills Education, a K-12 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) instructional requirement, covering self-management, self-control, responsible decision making, responsibility, accountability, and many other vital self development skills our students need to succeed in the world today.
THE EACS MINDFUL-BASED SEL APPROACH
Our mindfulness-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program at EACS fully integrates all five CASEL guidelines and the Texas Positive Character Traits and Personal Skills Education which help our students cultivate the cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence skills they need to succeed in an unknown, attention-hijacking, ever-changing, and rapidly expanding future.
This looks like the following:
- Access to two social workers (open to self-referrals, parent-referrals, and teacher-referrals);
- Mindfulness experiences throughout the week led by teachers and our Mindfulness Coordinator/Leader;
- Mindfulness-Based SEL (MBSEL) school-wide, data-driven mini lessons led by Mindfulness Coordinator/Leader;
- Student and teacher surveys assessing MBSEL and seeking feedback on mindfulness programs, curricula, information, and events throughout the school year;
- Annual and quarterly training for all staff on implementing MBSEL including practical and easy implementable practices to integrate in all content areas like mindful art, breathing exercises, brain breaks, movement, and a variety of other self-regulation and self-management strategies;
- Weekly MBSEL practices integrated into team meetings, huddles, and school-based professional development;
- MBSEL resources for the classroom such as instructional videos, internal and external, and a culturally responsive, trauma-informed curricula;
- Mindful Moments weekly notes and a “mindfulness” team slack channel designated to sharing and disseminating MBSEL insights, information, and inspiration;
- MBSEL parent and school events, including MBSEL parent communication sharing information, resources, strategies, and suggested projects for the home;
- MBSEL book study opportunities for educators to dive deeper into content knowledge and experiential learning;
- Monthly MBSEL professional learning community (PLC) for educators desiring to deepen their commitment to learning and implementing MBSEL content and practices in the classroom and beyond;
- MBSEL strategies embedded into the school-wide data-driven restorative practices-based discipline/referral system;
- MBSEL coaching for all teachers, leaders, and staff.
You can learn more about all the great things we are up to at EACS by clicking HERE.