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Building Resiliency, Maximizing Potential: Mind/Body Work at PEA

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Presented by Carol Cahalane, Chair of the Department of Health Education, and Connie Morse, School Counselor and Student Listeners Coordinator, at the 2012 Exeter Leadership Weekend.

Presented by Carol Cahalane, Chair of the Department of Health Education, and Connie Morse, School Counselor and Student Listeners Coordinator, at the 2012 Exeter Leadership Weekend.


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  • And that is true for many of us…
  • This is a scientifically-validated program. There is ample evidence that excessive stress shuts down learning and memory. People are more receptive to learning, and better, more creative problem solvers when in a calmer state of mind.Studies have demonstrated that people who can elicit the relaxation response, instead of allowing the fight, flee,or freeze response take over, have higher immune function, lower blood pressure, and enhanced executive functions which allow for best performance. Not as important for our students (yet), but it also can improve fertility rates and help with pain management.When students can identify and name their emotional states, they can deal with stressors more effectively. M/B gives them more healthy tools in self-soothing.Calmer, more mindful students can more effectively express themselves , can keep focused on their skills and goals, can more effectively address problems. They are more resilient (stress-resistant) and empowered.These skills and practices build confidence, by providing students more tools for the inevitabledifficulties in life, making them more resilient.Tools can be utilized to improve performance in pressured situations - such as test-taking anxiety, big games, an important speech, a musical or theatrical performance.We can’t eliminate stressors… but we aim to teach students the skills to change the effects of stress on their health and their lives.
  • Reflects our culture.Takes some practice to find what works for your, to improve practice.
  • David Firestone ’70, P ‘05
  • Harvard-affiliated, based currently at MGH. Started with adults, with plan that students would reap with the benefits. Train-the-trainer approach.
  • Explain Blackboard venue. Administration was kept in the loop from program’s inception. Received some funding for workshops, catered lunch discussions, books. Speakers generally paid for through Health Ed or Assembly budgets. Mostly driven by interest of faculty and staff - David Firestone ‘70, P’05’s support has been terrific.Ty took part in 2007 panel at National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in 2007.
  • 24% of participants have attended 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 workshops!Members of every teaching department have attended workshops.
  • Physiology of Stress and Relaxation Responses examined in Health Education. Stress management and relaxation techniques also taughtGiving adults opportunities to develop and maintain their own practices is critical.Health Center applications/usesStudy and integration of Positive Psychology into health education, counseling, Student Listeners work
  • Reference titles of books (Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: by Sharon Begley)Conference opportunities (Dalai Lama, Meditation and Psychotherapy, Education and Mindfulness). Carol and Connie spoke at conferences and schools (ISHA, TABS, Worcester, Horace Mann)
  • Students have reported less math and science anxiety when teachers have utilized M/B techniquesHumanities teachers report greater detail and depth in students’ writing when preceded by guided imageryThis has been a true movement on our campus.
  • Breath Focus activity
  • New Uppers and Seniors could use this (and other Health Ed)Time and financial needs are always a challenge
  • End with a quiet minute?
  • Transcript

    • 1. Resiliency, Maximizing Potential: Mind/Body Work at PEA Carol Cahalane, M.Ed., MCHES Connie Morse, LICSW, BCD September 28, 2012
    • 2. Our goals for today• Briefly review history of our M/B program• Discuss what is happening now• Share visions for the future• Time for Q & A
    • 3. Why Mind/Body?• Research based• Studies have demonstrated people learn best when challenged, but not excessively anxious, worried, or stressed• Through a variety of M/B techniques, students can access calmer, more resilient state
    • 4. Prior to starting our existing M/Bprogram, some components had beenin existence for many years:– Year-long health education courses for new 9th and 10th grade students included stress management and relaxation techniques– Religious program included a Friday night Buddhist meditation instruction and practice, open to all– Lunch time yoga classes for employees– Student Listener M/B training supported by a benefactor since 2001
    • 5. Further steps toward the current program…• An on-campus, two-day training was conducted by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in August, 2005; open to all faculty• 37 faculty attended, multiple disciplines represented. Workshop was extremely well-received
    • 6. And then…• Began monthly lunch meetings during academic year• Established a dedicated Blackboard page and email exchange for our Mind/Body group to share resources• Junior Studies and Health Education collaboration
    • 7. So far…• To date, six one- or two-day summer workshops. Initial invitations to faculty; administrative staff who work directly with students were invited as space allowed• Over 100 faculty and staff have voluntarily attended at least one of these workshops, with representation from every academic department and many administrative areas• Interdisciplinary component is a vital
    • 8. Putting it into Practice• Health Education curricula modified to include more time and emphasis on M/B and Positive Psychology (PP)• Student Listeners receive training for themselves and for share both M/B & PP with peers• Adults in the M/B group explore ways to bring research and practice into their work with students: in teaching, coaching, advising, and more
    • 9. Examples of what we are doing:• Silent moment to begin classes, meetings, practices, etc.• Physiology of Stress and Relaxation Responses examined in Health Education. Stress management and relaxation techniques also taught• Relaxation, focus, and imagery activities used in many disciplines• Theater and Dance department uses visualization to prepare students for performances• Research integrated into some biology classes• Language teachers guide practices in the language being studied• Coaches use some imagery for performance enhancement• iPods with relaxation recordings are available in Athletic Training Center
    • 10. More examples…• Student Listeners begin each meeting with some relaxation exercise and have led relaxation sessions in dorms• Health care providers prescribe relaxation activities for sleep and stress concerns• Counselors employ many of these techniques in their work• Human Resources Department has sponsored education programs about stress management via BB, workshops and health fairs• Enrollment for student and adult yoga classes has increased• Advisers integrate M/B messages into work with advisees• Dorms offer relaxation sessions
    • 11. Student Listener Retreat
    • 12. Employee Resource Page
    • 13. Additional activities:• Customized relaxation recordings on intranet• Library purchases and designated M/B display• Group has sponsored assembly speakers• Book purchases for M/B group with subsequent lunchtime discussions• M/B group members have attended relevant conferences and shared information with group• Test anxiety workshop for students
    • 14. Relaxation Recordings
    • 15. How has this been received?• Teachers across disciplines report increased student focus and attention following a quiet minute• Positive feedback from students regarding a multitude of relaxation exercises in personal use, classrooms, dorms, athletics, arts, and extra- curricular activities• Written evaluations and anecdotal evidence tell us that kids love this, request more of it, and report utilizing techniques on their own
    • 16. Going forward…• There’s interest in expanding the training opportunities• HR is aware that staff would appreciate and benefit from similar training• Could explore ways to bring this information to wider audiences (i.e. parents, alumni/ae community)
    • 17. Questions?
    • 18. Thank you!Feel free to keep in touch:Carol Cahalane, M.Ed. MCHES Connie Morse, LICSW, BCDccahalane@exeter.edu cmorse@exeter.edu603-777-4377 603-777-3431