Approximately 250 Dallas ISD staff members across the district have earned a Mindfulness Coach Certification from the district’s Social and Emotional Learning department. This training has equipped these leaders to conduct campuswide training and small group support for staff and students.
“Mindfulness practices help students and adults practice self-awareness and self-management, two social and emotional learning competencies,” shared Juany Valdespino-Gaytan, executive director of Advanced Academic Services and Social & Emotional Learning. “By providing staff across the district with an opportunity to get mindfulness-trained and certified, we are broadening the reach of this practice to students and staff who interact with trained Mindfulness Champions. We hope Mindfulness Champions will lead mindfulness practices for students and staff to help reset, refocus, and prepare for learning.”
Two of those Mindfulness Champions are already putting their training into practice in their work at Dallas ISD. Samira Gonzalez, a school counselor at John Quincy Adams Elementary School, and Caprice Johnson, a reset center coordinator at W.T. White High School, are two of the staff members to receive their certification earlier this spring.
Gonzalez had the chance to sprinkle in some mindfulness practices in the spring semester and noticed a few seeds sprouting: “One day, I started a counseling session with a mindfulness activity. I was surprised to notice differences in me. I felt more creative when leading the session. I got ideas of activities to do with the student, activities that I had never thought of before. I also felt more connected to the student because I became more present.”
“Mindfulness invites us to use tools during those challenging times, to navigate them with compassion, patience, and dignity,” said Gonzalez. “These tools help us become a better version of ourselves. When we become a better version of ourselves, students thrive. And that is our number one goal as a school district.”
Johnson has also seen a positive impact in her classroom: “Currently, in the Reset Center, I work with an array of students who exhibit challenging behaviors throughout the school day. This training has provided me with a new perspective and approach to addressing and working with this population of students,” she said.
Johnson also described how this training has allowed for more magical moments to happen with her students, where a lesson or a practice just clicks. “The training is filled with a wealth of ‘magic’ and tools for you to use for yourself and for your students!”
Not only have Gonzalez and Johnson seen the impact of their training in the classroom, but they have also seen it in their personal lives.
Gonzalez shared that even though she is a counselor herself, that doesn’t mean her journey of navigating her own emotions has stopped. “As I learn to be okay with my emotions and practice self-compassion, I am learning to connect more with myself and have a more meaningful and positive inner dialogue.”
Johnson said that this training “has ultimately made me into a better professional, Reset Coordinator, mother and partner. I am humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of and learn from some knowledgeable and seasoned professionals, who embody the vision of what mindfulness practices can do for individuals to enhance and provide effective and positive outcomes in our everyday lives.”
Learn more about Dallas ISD’s Social and Emotional Learning Department and its resources at www.dallasisd.org/sel.