Taking a Moment to be Mindful
On Monday, February 3rd, the entire Sayville School District—students, faculty, staff, and administrators in all buildings—participated in an inaugural stress-reducing event called a Mindful Moment.
“The objective of this activity,” Director of Student Services Jillian Makris explained, “is for both students and staff to take a short brain break or to simply take a breather—a moment to collect our thoughts.”
As part of the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) initiatives, Mrs. Makris and a team of IMPLEMENT* Leaders in Training within Sayville School District are furthering the districtwide plan to address anxiety and mental-health issues within the school community. “Research supports,” Mrs. Makris continued, “that mindfulness and meditation does the following: 1. Reduces anxiety, stress and depression; 2. Reduces problem behaviors like suspensions, bullying and hostility; 3. Improves resilience and coping skills; 4. Increases physical well-being; 5. Cultivates positive school climates, and 6. Enhances focus and attention which supports positive academic outcomes.”
This first Mindful Moment, held on the first Monday in February, united the school community by leading students and staff—whether they were in classrooms, the library, the gym, the office, the cafeteria—with a 2-minute, 27-second prerecorded video, prepared by IMPLEMENT Leader Beth Bolger and some Lincoln Avenue helpers. Simply pressing play on the desktop icon gave everyone the opportunity to follow the calming on-screen directions designed to relieve stress.
Response to this Mindful Moment was positive:
- At the High School level, students thought the activity “was fun,” and felt “we should do this every day.” While some students admitted to feeling “apprehensive and shy” at first, “once it got started, they agreed they liked it.” In general, the teachers noted there were “smiles, laughs, and general good vides” during and after the activity.
- “So, we did our mindfulness moment today,” a Middle teacher shared. “My students actually liked it, and fully participated, as did I. I think we’re going to use it on a regular basis. Very neat!”
- The pupil personnel staff at one elementary school declared. “All classrooms were ready to go and happily participated. It was cool to see everyone moving at the same time.”
Yoga 4 Classrooms, a Professional-Development Workshop for Educators & School Professionals, states that “educators who participate in mindfulness-based training experience improvements in mood, classroom management, physical symptoms, blood pressure and cortisol awakening response, as well as teaching efficacy, well-being, stress reduction, and burnout prevention.” And students directly benefit from their teachers’ coping skills.
“The first districtwide Mindful Moment went very well,” Mrs. Makris reflected at the end of the day. “Staff reported a lot of positive feedback. We look forward to doing more of these moments throughout the school year on a more consistent basis. It is important for all, staff and students alike, to take breaks throughout the day. Simply, standing up from their desks or stepping away from their computers can provide a much needed respite for everyone—a time to reset and refocus."
* "The IMPLEMENT program was developed to inspire and empower schools to affordably, effectively, and sustainably integrate yoga and mindfulness school-wide by providing training and resources to encourage and support implementation from the inside.