Mindfulness class

10/25/16

Bluffton to offer master’s-level mindfulness class for educators

In January, Bluffton University will offer a course on mindfulness in the classroom. Mindfulness is an evidence-based group of practices which cultivate the ability to focus on one’s experience with greater focus, clarity and compassion in the present moment. This conceptual and experiential class will better enable educators to respond to stress and to balance the inner and outer challenges posed by our rapidly changing and demanding world.

The class will explore age-appropriate methods for sharing these insights and practices with students of all ages. Dr. Will Slater, professor of psychology and a trained and experienced teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, will teach the class. He says the practice can benefit a range of young students, from children who have trouble focusing to high-achieving students who put undue stress on themselves to reach perfection.

“For kids, it is about improving their executive function and improving their emotional intelligence, and that is what really helps them to have fewer behavioral problems in school and to be less stressed and able to calm themselves. Mindfulness also helps them with perspective taking—to understand their own emotions and how they’re affecting other people,” said Slater.

Slater will use the text “A Still Quiet Place” written by Dr. Amy Saltzman, a holistic physician and mindfulness coach who uses the technique with her own children. Classes will be held from 7-10 p.m. on Mondays from Jan. 9-Feb. 3, 2017, using Zoom technology. The class is open to student’s currently enrolled in Bluffton’s graduate programs in education as well as to all educators. By using Zoom, participants can take the class from any location, as long as they have a computer and internet connection. The three-credit-hour class can be used as continuing-education credit for license renewals.

“Bluffton’s graduate programs in education use Zoom video-conferencing technology, which provides the benefit of face-to-face classroom learning while offering the flexibility of online learning,” said Erin Burkholder, director of adult and graduate studies.

Mindfulness has been in use in medical settings since 1979 when Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn started the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, but it is a technique currently trending in the United States. While the class will focus on teaching mindfulness to children, Slater says, “You really can’t teach the kids to do something you don’t know how to do yourself. I’m going to encourage folks in the class to begin the practice themselves.”

This is the first of a series of special topics courses for Bluffton’s graduate programs in education following a restructuring of the program to better meet the needs of today’s educators. A new course will be offered each January.

“We have spent time working on our graduate programs in education core and believe that we offer a variety of courses that meet the needs of today’s teachers,” said Dr. Gayle Trollinger, director of graduate programs in education. “The courses provide information that can be immediately applied to classrooms.”

Teachers and professionals interested in learning more about the course or Bluffton’s graduate programs in education should contact the adult and graduate studies office at adulted@bluffton.edu or 419-358-3897.

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For kids, it is about improving their executive function and improving their emotional intelligence, and that is what really helps them to have fewer behavioral problems in school and to be less stressed and able to calm themselves. Mindfulness also helps them with perspective taking—to understand their own emotions and how they’re affecting other people.”
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