Saturday, December 2, 2017

Brenda Nelson speaks to GPS on Nov. 30 on Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning

On Nov. 30, the Glenbard Parent Series hosted Brenda Nelson at a presentation called Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning:  An Approach for Sailing the Rough Seas of Adolescence.

Teacher shares takeaway from mindfulness program

Christa Gifford, Glenbard South Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and Glenbard District 87 Wellness Committee chairwoman, shared the following takeaway: "Teenage brains are wired
Christa Gifford (left) and Brenda Nelson
differently and teens have a heightened sense of fight/flight and tend to perceive things much differently than adults. Teens have a natural vulnerability that we need to be aware of.  With all of the stress and pressures from social media, school and family, this "noise" is constant.  Contemplative practices, like mindfulness (i.e. paying attention, on purpose, in the present, without judgment) can help teens deal with stress and be comfortable with the clutter of negative thoughts that teens can get caught up in; feel it and then let it go. Make time for reflection, peaceful moments and gratitude.  Strengthening this practice can lead to better relationships and better physical and mental health."

Notes from Brenda Nelson's mindfulness program

Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Learning:
An Approach for Sailing the Rough Seas of Adolescence

Dr. Brenda Nelson, DSW, LCSW
GPS November 30th 2017

·         Decided and was intrigued with mindfulness after a 2-year span of 5 student suicides and 2 staff suicides
·         Background as a special ed social worker
·         Bias that every kid could get individual help from some sort of PPS employee as the first few suicides she was associated with had had no sort of connection to a mental health professional
·         “When we are stressed, the first thing to go is our breath.”

The Problem
·         Brain and the stress response
o   Anxiety, Depression, Digestive Problems, Headaches, Heart Disease, Sleep Problems, Weight Gain, Memory and Concentration Impairment.
o   Today’s Stresses:
§  Parents making comments about stress related to 4 year plans and naviance and college…
§  Academic, Social, Family
The Unique Adolescent Brain
·         Older Adolescents “display greater stress-induced cortisol levels compared with individuals in late childhood or earlier stages of adolescence. 
o   Brains take things in as an extreme.  i.e. parent yelling at student when in reality there is just a conversation going on that the student does not agree upon.
The opportunity
Social Emotional Learning
· (Social Emotional Learning and its definition)
o   SEL is a hot bed in Dupage County
§  Good amount of SEL at the elementary level, less at the middle school level and even less at the high school level. 
·         SEL in Illinois Self-awareness, Social Awareness and Decision Making.
Mindfulness, including four central process
·         Defined:
o   Paying Attention
o   In the present moment
o   On purpose
o   Without Judgment (doing it with a sense of curiosity)
·         Secular Mindfulness
o   Mindfulness based stress reduction –Kabat Zinn
o   Since the 1970’s
o   By far, most researched mindfulness program
o   Health care, business, politics media and education
·         What is the big idea?
o   Changes the brain and strengthens the mind.
§  People who have meditated (a Buddhist monk) can control their brain unlike anyone who is not able to dedicate so much time to meditation
§  Where we typically function at is “auto-pilot” (hair conditioner, driving for 20 miles) habitual occurrences. Goal for mindfulness is to get out of auto-pilot and create those new pathways.
o   Notice Thoughts and let them come and go. And that is OK! Remove the judgmental aspect. Many times, adolescents’ thoughts are even more intense than ours.
o   Mindfulness of Emotions
§  “Riding the waves” Cultivating gratitude
·         Mindfulness in schools
o   Programs vs practices
o   Research is compelling
§  BUT – Enthusiasm outpaces research
o   Casel secondary guide off of their website
·         How to go about implementation
o   Core group of Admin, teachers and parents. (practice)
§  Go slow. Anything that is valuable, doesn’t happen overnight!
o   Programs vs. practices
o   Targeted vs. universal
·         MBSR or other teacher prep – CARE for teachers
·         Last core aspect
o   Self-Compassion
o   Loving Kindness
·         CAN WE….
o   Ride the waves with the teens in our lives
o   Prioritize our own well-being and calm
o   Sit with unpleasant and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings
o   Create time and space for quiet
·         40- day challenge
o   can you take 10 minutes a day to put your tush in a cush…
·         www.learning