The Edge

Mindfulness in our Schools with Laura Thomas and Susan Dreyer Leon

February 15, 2024 ISTE Season 2 Episode 12
Mindfulness in our Schools with Laura Thomas and Susan Dreyer Leon
The Edge
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The Edge
Mindfulness in our Schools with Laura Thomas and Susan Dreyer Leon
Feb 15, 2024 Season 2 Episode 12

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore ways to be more mindful in our classrooms both for ourselves and our students. Joining them in the conversation is Laura Thomas and Susan Dreyer Leon. 

Show Notes Transcript

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore ways to be more mindful in our classrooms both for ourselves and our students. Joining them in the conversation is Laura Thomas and Susan Dreyer Leon. 

Georgia Terlaje: [00:00:00] It's time for the edge, a podcast brought to you by it's the community leaders, whether you're a seasoned educator, a visionary administrator, or a passionate education enthusiast. Fasten your seat belts because this podcast is tailor made for you. Get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey as our it's the community leaders take you behind the scenes and into the dynamic world of education.

Georgia Terlaje: And the episodes ahead will unveil stories from the front lines, showcasing the relentless dedication and innovation that fuels the transformative field of education, buckle up, embrace yourself for an adventure coming up today, we've got two fabulous guests on the show who will discuss mindfulness and technology. I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Turlahi. I'm a TK5 instructional coach and an educator of 35 years.

Georgia Terlaje: And I'm here with my favorite partner in crime, 

Laura Thomas: Jessica Peck. Thank 

Jessica Pack: you, Georgia. You are absolutely my favorite too. I'm so glad to be here with you. I'm [00:01:00] Jessica Pack, a middle school teacher and an ISTE author. I'm really excited for today's episode because we are going to deep dive with some special guests about mindfulness and technology.

Jessica Pack: And we are once again joined by our fellow ISTE community leader, Laura Thomas. Laura is a professor at Antioch University, New England, where she coordinates the integration of STEAM education as well as the Experienced Educators Program. Laura, welcome back to The 

Laura Thomas: Edge. Thank you. I'm very excited to be back here.

Laura Thomas: I've been looking forward to rejoining you. And speaking of favorites I am here with Susan Dreyer Leon, who is literally one of my favorite people in the entire world. She's not only a dear friend, but she is one of the smartest people I know. Susan is the current chair of the Department of Education at Antioch New England.

Laura Thomas: And she is actually Just wrapping up that role. She is also the coordinator [00:02:00] for among many other hats She's the coordinator for our mindfulness for educators program and she's been actually doing that work Much longer than she's been with us at antioc her background in mindfulness goes Way, way, way, way back.

Laura Thomas: And so I'll let you, let her tell you a little bit more about that. So I'll just pass it on to Susan now. 

Susan Dreyer Leon: Thanks, Laura. That's very nice of you. And I have to say it's totally mutual. Laura and I have been Antioch colleagues now for 20 years. Next week, actually October 1st, marks our 20th year working together.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Two Missouri girls in New England. So yeah, it's wonderful to be on the show. I'm super excited for this topic and ready to dive in. 

Laura Thomas: That's 

Georgia Terlaje: awesome. We're so glad to have you Susan and Laura on the edge. You've told us a little bit about yourselves, but could you tell us a little bit about your origin story?

Georgia Terlaje: How did you first become friends? Like, do you remember how that came to be? 

Susan Dreyer Leon: [00:03:00] Oh, yes, it goes back to the Coalition of Essential Schools, Ted Sizer, and those guys at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and Brown University, and when I first moved from New York City, where I taught for a dozen years, to Vermont, I was looking for the local Coalition of Essential Schools.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And it turned out to be at Antioch and Laura was the director and I was running a little alternative high school program in Springfield, Vermont. And Laura came over and started working with our staff and doing professional development. And I was a newly minted doctorate from a teacher's college.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And when the faculty opening came up at Antioch, Laura was like, you should apply for this. And so I did and as they say, the rest is history 

Laura Thomas: and actually, I will add that after I met Susan, I went back to Antioch and that same day went to the person who was my immediate supervisor, a former colleague who's since retired and said.

Laura Thomas: There's this woman in [00:04:00] Springfield and we must hire her. I don't care what we have to do, but we must poach her from them and bring her to us because we need her. And so there was some wrangling to make a position that, and so then I went, I was playing both sides of that because I knew we needed her very badly.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And another fun fact is that once we started working together, we realized that I worked at the summer camp where Laura's sister was the director. So we had, like, ties that went back and back.

Susan Dreyer Leon: What kind 

Laura Thomas: of sparked 

Jessica Pack: your mutual interest in mindfulness and technology? Because I'll be really honest, those are not two words I typically put together in my mind when I'm thinking about mindful practices. So if you could maybe kind of give us a little bit of backstory on how you started pairing those ideas.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Well, it really wasn't us. The marketplace is creating this connection and we're just figuring out how to use it. So for Antioch, it started with creating a Mindfulness for [00:05:00] Educators program that was initially face to face. We partnered with the Berry Center for Buddhist Studies and we brought together the ideas of Creating a place where teachers could come together to deepen their own mindfulness practice because the the idea of mindfulness was moving into schools, but it's so often the case with innovation and education.

Susan Dreyer Leon: What was happening is that there was this rush to implement to the kids, but the teachers were getting skipped over. So, and Mindfulness is an experiential practice. It's really hard to teach it if you haven't had some direct experience yourself. And so we perceived that there was a need for a program just for teachers, for their own personal benefit, and also because they would be asked to move into these roles where they were teaching mindfulness or working with mindfulness consultants in their schools and stuff.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So after the first two years of that program, we heard from interested students that they wanted to do it, but they couldn't. Get the [00:06:00] time off to come and do it in person and the founder of that program, Claire Stanley, who's my kind of mentor teacher said, you know, I think we could do this fully online.

Susan Dreyer Leon: This was maybe 2011 and we had no fully online programming at that point. And I was like, Claire, there's no way. Mindfulness online. You've got to be kidding me. But she said, you know, I've got some, she'd been doing some like seminars with good teachers from around the country online. She's like, I think it could work.

Susan Dreyer Leon: There's this new thing called zoom. And I was like, zoom, what is that? And so we sort of figured out from there, how to structure a program that could be fully online and where we could begin to do mindfulness. And it turns out that you, there's a whole field of mindfulness. Presence in an online environment like you can you can demonstrate and feel like in your body feel presence in an online environment and you can feel it through video.[00:07:00] 

Susan Dreyer Leon: You can feel it through text. You can feel it through curated artwork and so on and. And so using some really good elements of course design, we've been able to create a program that has a lot of, it's highly personalized. It has a lot of elements of the same kind of experience you get when you're together in person with people practicing meditation.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And then after we started that, the whole mindfulness App world just took off. So Headspace and Calm. com and 10 percent Happier and all these organizations that have apps that try to do something similar. Even Insight Timer, which just started out as literally a timer now has like a huge variety of apps available.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And so you know, all of these are. Trying to figure out how technology can provide access to people to support their [00:08:00] practice and they work to Greater and lesser extents. Yeah, 

Laura Thomas: and I would say that for me. It really started Susan and I were office mates and Someone recommended I try this thing called God Susan what was it called like Zen timer or something where randomly throughout the day it would There would be a chime and your computer would, like, go dark for 10 seconds, you know, you could set it.

Laura Thomas: And there was, of course, always an escape, right? You could always, like, jump over it. But this idea that somehow technology could help me be more present, because at that time I was a young mom. I, well, I wasn't young, but I had little kids. And I was doing a lot of different, wearing a lot of different hats.

Laura Thomas: I had a lot of different roles at Antioch. And I was just, Like coming apart at the seams and Susan actually gave me a book wherever you go, there you are, I think is, yeah and this was again back in 2010, [00:09:00] maybe and just this idea that maybe just a pause and a breath could be really helpful. This was, you know, before any of that.

Laura Thomas: We didn't have the awareness that we have now about how important those things were. And I knew I couldn't do it for myself. So having technology to help me do that was where I really started thinking that maybe there was a thing here, but the thing I really liked about Susan's approach to the mindfulness for educators piece was that she, that the educator is at the center.

Laura Thomas: You know, one of the things that I feel like I harp on a lot right now is that The teacher is the most important student in the room in any classroom. The teacher is the most important student. And so centering the teacher and the teacher's needs in this program, what we heard from our students was that they didn't have to teach mindfulness to their kids just by being more fully present themselves.

Laura Thomas: They A lot of the problems that they were having seemed to evaporate [00:10:00] because it was a matter of attention. I mean, Susan, I'm probably oversimplifying that, but that's sort of what got me hooked back in the day.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Yeah. I just want to follow up on that briefly, Laura, I feel like that you know, that is data that comes out of the world of psychology and the way that mindfulness kind of moved out of religious practice and into medicine and then into psychology. John Kabat Zinn was really responsible for that movement.

Susan Dreyer Leon: He's the one who wrote wherever you go, there you are. And his mindfulness based stress reduction program really targeted people who were dealing with things like chronic pain and difficult diagnoses. And, and, and then it moved quickly into the psychology realm and there's more research there than there is an education, although the education research is growing.

Susan Dreyer Leon: But in the psychology realm, what they found is that clients of people who practice mindfulness had better outcomes, even if their therapist never taught them anything about how to meditate. It was the capacity of the [00:11:00] therapist to be present that resulted in the better outcomes. And so my guess is that we don't have totally good data on that for teachers yet, but I suspect that will prove true.

Susan Dreyer Leon: It's certainly anecdotally true for the, you know, almost hundred people now who've been through our program. And it really does have to do with the capacity of mindfulness to improve our ability to make friends with our own mind and to be present with what's happening for us so that we can see, like, Oh, it's not that that kid is a jerk.

Susan Dreyer Leon: It's that I have a screaming headache. You know, it seems like you wouldn't notice, but in the press of the classroom, it's really easy to conflate those variables. And once you try to slow down and kind of separate it out, then you have a much greater chance of being able to respond in the way that you hope to respond and not out of reactivity or habit or conditioning.

Susan Dreyer Leon: I think 

Georgia Terlaje: [00:12:00] that's really important because I, you know, you bring up putting the teacher at the center of this mindfulness. I know after cobit, you know, I know, at least our district, we've been using a lot of mindfulness programs with the students, but the teachers have been left out and, you know, we've. Had some people on sites that, you know, are yoga teachers or do sound baths that have offered things.

Georgia Terlaje: But I think that does get left out of the equation is. Oh, yeah, the teacher will be fine when that's really where you need to start. So, I'm like, applaud you for realizing that because you're right who the person is in the room as the teacher, it's going to affect how the kids learn for sure. So I had a question about how could, so, you know, thinking of your program that you do, how can educators effectively integrate mindfulness practices into their teaching?

Georgia Terlaje: Amidst the constant flux of technology in the classroom and all the other things, how do you roll it out with teachers to roll it out [00:13:00] to 

Laura Thomas: their kids? 

Susan Dreyer Leon: Yeah, this is really variable, and I think, you know, there are quite a few good curriculum for children. Mindful Schools is probably the biggest organization in the country who's doing this.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And their trainings are now, like, very accessible online, easy to get to. And I think part of what we're looking for with kids right now is what works for them. You know, I think that they get a lot of technology. And so in one way, technology is a way to get to them. So like, I had a student who did a really interesting practicum this year with an app called Maloka, which is a virtual reality app where if you actually have the VR headset and put it on, you can get it as a phone app too, but I think it's more immersive with the VR.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Like it, It gamifies meditation, and it teaches kids meditation practices, but it also makes a game out of it. And it's quite appealing and [00:14:00] lovely. And I, you know, it'll be interesting to see if, in the end, a kid feels better enough that they would choose that as an activity for themselves. There's a lot of bad practice out there, too.

Susan Dreyer Leon: You know, I'll give a couple of quick examples. One is the principal of the local elementary school called me, I don't know, this may be five years ago. And she was like, we really need you to come teach mindfulness to the kids. We're having terrible behavior problems and we really need them to like be able to calm down and self regulate and focus.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And I said to her, like, this was a small town. I'm like, I heard you canceled morning recess. It's like mindfulness is not going to substitute for morning recess. You're in a K 2 building. Those kids have to be outside. They need to move their bodies. Five year olds are not supposed to sit still for six and a half hours a day.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So I feel like, you know, that kind of, it's going to be a panacea. That is not what mindfulness is meant to be. Like it's, It's like Linda Lantieri, one of my favorite people in [00:15:00] the field who's been involved in, in social emotional learning for a long time. She said mindfulness can be a really key part of a social emotional curriculum, but it's not a substitute for a social emotional curriculum.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Right? And so I think it's just really important that we think about, like, how are we integrating it? What tools are we giving kids to use? How much time is it going to take for them? I think another example of bad practice was a study out of California where they had outside consultants come in and teach mindfulness to teenagers using the mindfulness based stress reduction.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Protocols and their instruction was to go home and meditate for 45 minutes a day by themselves and then come back and report on their experience. And the entire study concluded that mindfulness was a failure for teenagers because they didn't meditate 45 minutes a day. And I was like. No kidding like who designed this and I think that's a place [00:16:00] where you know tech could really help and in fact another of my students Had a great practicum where she was kind of she was the mindfulness bell for her She was doing like young young and college students.

Susan Dreyer Leon: I think she had like freshmen and She was texting them And she was like, you know, here's your mindful minute and report back to me, like, how are you doing? What's happening? And don't forget this practice. Don't forget that practice. And it was like just in time stuff and the students loved it. They loved that personal connection.

Susan Dreyer Leon: They loved having the kind of combination of high touch and like right here on your phone. It was great. So I think we, you know, we have to get creative.

Jessica Pack: Are there some other specific mindfulness exercises or techniques that educators could incorporate for themselves and then also for their students? Like, how might those two [00:17:00] things work together? 

Susan Dreyer Leon: Yeah, there's a couple of things. One of the first, the best and the, like, most impactful is Pausing and it's really like my, my teacher mentor, Claire Stanley wrote a beautiful little article on this for the Insight Journal.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And she said, it's like what the conductor does before he starts the piece. And I just love that image and when you think about all of the transitions in the classroom and how often we like start instruction, but then we realize like, oh, crap, I don't have the handout. And it's like, is it on the copy machine?

Susan Dreyer Leon: Like, you know, it's just this kind of chaotic feeling. And it's, it's like taking that moment to like really gather yourself, make sure you're ready, take a few breaths, [00:18:00] gather the students in by eye, and then like, let's begin. And also, anytime you feel that reactivity rising, like take that pause. And I'll give another example of how important that kind of thing can be.

Susan Dreyer Leon: I have a friend whose daughter was the only student of color in a classroom where she was constantly being singled out for behaviors that she assured her mom the other kids in the room were engaging in. And I thought, Oh, this is the lack of pause. Like people are unaware, like, of course, you're going to notice this kid more.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Because she's the only kid of color in the room. So she stands out. And if you pause, if the, you know, you see her take out her phone and you pause and look around and see how many other kids have their phone out before you scream her name, then that's a whole different world. Right. So I feel like it's that kind of like, and, and whenever you're.

Susan Dreyer Leon: [00:19:00] feel it takes 90 seconds for that adrenaline to flood through your system. So when you feel that like rising urge to scream, if you can just take three breaths and wait, it can just make a huge world of difference in the classroom for you too, right? Because the teacher feels so crappy after those incidents.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So I feel like that's really important also. 

Laura Thomas: That's 

Jessica Pack: a really good explanation that aligns with the idea that the teacher is setting the weather in the room. My principal used that phrase at a Wednesday staff meeting lately, and I was just like, Oh my gosh, that's the best description. Just the idea that whatever is going on with us is going to sort of transmute itself to kids if we're not able to like rein it in and control it.

Laura Thomas: Yeah, years ago Susan and I wrote a piece for Edutopia. God, that was, that was a long time ago. Called Don't Just Do Something, Stand There. Or Don't Do Something, Just Stand There. And the whole piece was [00:20:00] premised around this idea of just, wait a second, That a lot of times, if you just can give yourself that minute, that 90 seconds, take a drink of water, take a deep breath look around and notice and to check in physically with yourself too, to just like what's going on, not to judge it, I feel like that's one of the things that's, that Susan has really brought into the Experienced Educators program that sort of trickles across all of our different concentrations is this idea of, being able to notice without judging, like to make some space between the here's what I see, here's what I feel, and then here's what I think it means, and here's what else it could also mean.

Laura Thomas: You know, and to, to make the space between the experience and then the story I tell myself about it. And just that little bit of space it doesn't matter what you're working with, having that space in there to sort of take, to, to Just give yourself a little room to tell you to tell a different story about what's [00:21:00] happening about what you're seeing it, but what you're feeling about, whether it's good or bad, like it just is. I Feel like that's been a real gift for all of our students, even the ones who aren't in the mindfulness program, because it's a key piece of all of our practica. And also just one of the things that I feel like we say over and over again, okay, so that's interesting.

Laura Thomas: What else could that mean? What other story could you tell with that information? And I feel like right now there's kids come in really dysregulated adults are really dysregulated, right? And the more dysregulated people bump up against each other, just the more dysregulated they get, but that space to sort of notice what dysregulation feels like in your own body.

Laura Thomas: And then to be able to. See it in other people like, oh, like, I, you are in the middle of a storm over there. Like, you're in the middle of the hurricane and I'm not going to step into the hurricane with [00:22:00] you, but I'm going to notice it. And then once you're in a space to be able to not be in the hurricane, I'm just going to try to point out that maybe, like, or ask, like, what did that feel like in your body?

Laura Thomas: It really reminds me of when my kids were toddlers. And they would like have these like meltdowns and it was clear they were miserable and if I yelled they got worse, but if I just waited with them, then once they were calm, we could unpack it a little bit and try to figure out how to not have it go that way the next time.

Laura Thomas: But it was all about that moment for me as a parent to be able to pause and be like, I'm not going to step into the middle of the hurricane with you. And I think that's that little gift. I mean, it's not a little gift. It's huge. But just that one little thing has made such an impact on all of the students that have come through our programs.

Georgia Terlaje: Have either of you seen any or have any stories to tell from things you see going, working well in? Schools [00:23:00] are a school that maybe stands out. That's really got their mindfulness game down, or at least really working towards having their mindfulness game down. 

Susan Dreyer Leon: Yeah, I feel like we have a couple of students over the years who've been in schools that have embraced school wide mindfulness.

Susan Dreyer Leon: I can think of a little charter school outside of Pittsburgh that had a school wide curriculum. And I feel like. One of the things that they really noticed, and I think that became important is figuring out what's the developmentally appropriate way to bring mindfulness to kids. So that kind of goes back to that high school story I was telling.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And so, like for little kids, they need to do activities. So it's not like little kids. It's not good for little kids to try to sit still and be quiet for Five minutes or 10 minutes. So they do other kinds of activities, like one that I really like is this one with rocks, where each kid gets a rock, [00:24:00] and they kind of get to know their rock really well.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And then they then they put their rock in a paper bag, and they try to find their rock just by touch. So it, it's like, it's, attention training, right? So they're just doing attention training and that can be super helpful, but it's also fun. It's got that kind of game idea. And what happens is schools that are developing like a progressive mindfulness, then by the time kids get old enough to have the more significant conversations they're able to really begin to, to do their own Self regulating and thinking about what is happening for them.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And I, I, that's, you know, that's the thing, though, is it really does have to be embedded in a social emotional curriculum. Like, I did have a student tell me that their cooperating teacher was running through the, like, classroom. Banging [00:25:00] this mindfulness spell and going, time to be quiet, time to be mindful, time to be quiet.

Susan Dreyer Leon: It was like, no, that's 

Laura Thomas: not it. So I 

Susan Dreyer Leon: think that it's the schools who are really thoughtfully designing as part of curriculum, getting parents permission up front. getting clarity about what the role is. And I think the other thing is we conflate mindfulness with relaxation in this country. It's been sold that way, like just be mindful and it'll help you relax.

Susan Dreyer Leon: It's like a warm bath. And while one of the benefits of mindfulness can be greater feelings of ease and so on. It's actually hard. It's not really, it's not really meant to be a relaxation practice. It's a reflective practice and ultimately it can lead people, including kids, into hard places. And this is another really important thing we've learned, which is Silent meditation and trauma do [00:26:00] not go well together.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So we do not want to be demanding. There has to be an element of choice. That's something else really important that our students are learning and that schools are learning. So it's like, you know, if sitting quietly isn't comfortable for you try this app, try this coloring book, try this, you know, there has to be some elements of choice and we have to be really attuned when a kid says I can't sit still.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Then mindful walking, mindful movement, mindful eating. You can bring present moment awareness to any activity. There's a fabulous curriculum called awareness through the body. It comes from Auroville, India. And we have co sponsored their trainings at Antioch for many, many years. And it's. In Auroville, it's a combination of a social emotional curriculum and P.

Susan Dreyer Leon: E. And doing their trainings, there's just these fabulous, like, games of Simon Says, like, that [00:27:00] require attention training, playing games with balloons, they spin plates on sticks, and climb ladders, and hug trees, and float in water, and light fires. Not the bad kind. And really like explore their senses and really teach kids to get down in their senses.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And, you know, what we know about mindfulness, why part of why it works biologically is because there's this default mode network in the brain, which is where our brain goes when we're. Planning, worrying ruminating, postulating fantasizing, and it's called the default mode because if our brain isn't actively working on something, it goes there, right?

Susan Dreyer Leon: It just automatically goes there. When we do these mindfulness exercises that bring people into their senses, the brain switches from the default mode network to the sensory cortex. You can see it on a functional MRI machine. [00:28:00] And those two networks are cross wired. They can't be online together. So when we switch kids attention from the default mode network, they're like worrying about what's going to happen when they get home, or remembering something bad that maybe happened, or into like, how does your rock feel?

Susan Dreyer Leon: Or describe all the colors you see in, you know, out the window, or things like that. It, it engages the aspect of the nervous system that's calming. And it helps us to calm down and to regulate just by switching into the senses. And so all of the curriculum that allows us to give kids experiences, felt experiences of that, and resources they can go to when they feel anxious.

Susan Dreyer Leon: I mean, it's no good to say to somebody like, Oh, you're having a panic attack. Stop being anxious. They need concrete strategies, things they can do. And so, these, all these really good age appropriate activities help kids to begin to switch into [00:29:00] their sensory cortex and they get the benefit of mindfulness without having to do long periods of meditation that are developmentally inappropriate.

Laura Thomas: So I am 

Jessica Pack: coming from the land of middle school, which we sort of jokingly like to refer to as the land of bad decision making. I'm sure all of my middle school friends out there can probably corroborate that. And you know, we've seen such a upward tick in students just Having a lot of digital distraction and the use of social media and the amount of screen time that they have is just off the charts.

Jessica Pack: So I'm wondering what kind of strategies educators might be able to use to help students develop digital mindfulness and how to, like, stay present and manage that. For some students, what is a screen addiction, essentially? 

Susan Dreyer Leon: Yeah, it's a great question. And I feel like, you know, I'm interested in hearing [00:30:00] all perspectives on this because there's not, obviously there's not one easy answer.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And we're in uncharted territory. I mean, we're just conducted this enormous experiment on our kids and I've got a 17 year old, so I'm aware. And I feel like part of what. You know what we hope for when we train kids in mindfulness is to be aware of what how they're affected by what they're doing and be able to get some space.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So like here's something we know about kids at this age, right? They're, they're moving into a stage where they care a lot about what other people think. Right. And so much so that their sense of self is, is almost externally derived. And so as they're working through this what becomes particularly risky for them is if they don't have multiple places to reflect back to them who they are.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So if the [00:31:00] only place they have is Instagram, and they're the target of the bully set at their school, then they can't develop resiliency, right? So we really need to work to cultivate multiple places where they have different peer groups that can reflect back to them who they are. And family is one, and that's important.

Susan Dreyer Leon: And Friends is another important one. Activities outside of school that are not digital. So it could be a sports team, it could be scouting, it could be so it's like getting kids connected with a variety of different social groups. So if one of them falls apart, they have another group they can lean on that can say like, oh, those guys are idiots.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Like you're wonderful. So, you know, you go with your, I don't know, horse riding pack or your Dungeons and Dragons pack or your, you know, and so for some kids, that's their gaming communities, like, so their school community might be. [00:32:00] Sucky in their social media experience might be sucky, but maybe they have a great gaming community or vice versa.

Susan Dreyer Leon: So I think that's a big part of what we need to kind of help them see is like you want to have it. You want to broaden your social base and you can use technology to help you do that or you can consciously try to choose some activities in your life and in your day that aren't tech based. You know, and I think that it's having that variety.

Susan Dreyer Leon: I think, you know, in our generation, church was another option, but I think not, well, I don't know, a lot of kids out in, in the U. S. go to church on a regular basis with their family. So that can be another place where they see a different self reflected to them. So I just feel like those, those, Those things that have been protective for teenagers continue to be protective for teenagers.

Laura Thomas: And I think another place where technology can be helpful is in helping kids find affinity groups. [00:33:00] If they're, you know, like if they have a condition or they have an interest that Isn't supported in their community, or they're the only kid who has this thing in in their age group, then being able to find an affinity group online.

Laura Thomas: That could ultimately also lead them to things like summer programs or local, you know, there's a, whatever, a monthly gathering of families who have the same things that they're dealing with, you know, and it's a half an hour from here and we should go. And I think that. Those are really important, especially for kids who are already marginalized in their communities.

Laura Thomas: And who are, and unfortunately, in a lot of cases, those are the kids who are less likely to have access. So that's where they're going to need support from the grown ups around them to help them. And, you know, counselors know where to find these groups or a lot of teachers are, you know, especially I feel like [00:34:00] some of the younger teachers are better tuned in to where this stuff lives.

Laura Thomas: But I know that you know, for my daughter when she went through this series of very complicated surgeries her online community of people who are all over the world, like they got her through that and that if she had had to limit herself to just the people she could see face to face, she would have been completely by herself.

Laura Thomas: So there, there's the capacity there for yet another place for people to see themselves reflected. And as Susan said, the more places that middle school Kids can get that external reflection of who they are, the more resourced they are. If one of those falls apart, this, this has 

Georgia Terlaje: been such a great conversation.

Georgia Terlaje: And I, I love the ideas and tips you have given educators to think about parents to think about. I think being it. Mindful of mindfulness is important, and so I think this will give people a good jumping off point if [00:35:00] they haven't really thought about being intentional with that for our listeners could Susan and Laura, could you tell us if.

Georgia Terlaje: Blisters would like to get a hold of you or make contact with you where they could find you, whether it's social media, email, something like that.

Susan Dreyer Leon: Laura, I feel like that's all you at this moment. 

Laura Thomas: Yes. So I can be reached at critical at critical skills one on Twitter and Instagram. Antioch, New England education also has. Well, not Twitter X platform, formerly known as Twitter and Instagram, and also we're on Facebook. And you just have to search for Antioch New England education.

Laura Thomas: It's a little different on each platform. I also can just be reached by email lthomas at Antioch dot edu. So yeah, you know, and we're happy to talk about one of the great things about working at Antioch. I think I may have said this last time is that our first president was Horace Mann, and he gave us the [00:36:00] charge to be ashamed to die until you have won a victory for humanity.

Laura Thomas: And. We take that very seriously. So when people reach out to us for help, we don't just think, Oh, this is a prospective student. We better get them in so we can get their money and blah, blah, blah. No, we, we really come into it from a place of, okay, how can I be of service? How can I help? What do they need?

Laura Thomas: And so you can reach out to us. Just with a need and we are happy to help and we're not going to charge you for it. We're just going to help. And that's what we're supposed to do. Like, that's how we're made. So please, please, please reach out if. There's anything that we can do to help. 

Susan Dreyer Leon: Yeah. And likewise I run Mindfulness for Educators.

Susan Dreyer Leon: It's an open Facebook page. And you can also find the Mindfulness for Educators. We have a graduate certificate in the MED programs. You can find that on the Antioch University, New England website. And I'm [00:37:00] sdreierleon at antioch. edu. aNd like Laura said, I'm also I'm thrilled to talk to anybody who wants to talk about this.

Susan Dreyer Leon: We're not just recruiting students, we're helping build a field, right? This is a very new field in education, and I suspect it's going to be an enduring one. So, we're interested in hearing from people who are interested in the work. 

Jessica Pack: Well, thank you both again so much for your time and your message, and we just have completely enjoyed spending this little Episode being able to talk about mindfulness and technology, so thank you for that.

Jessica Pack: As we wrap up this episode of the Edge podcast, we hope you had a great time. My name is Jessica and you can find me at Pacwoman208 on X, formerly Twitter, and Threads and Instagram. 

Georgia Terlaje: And I'm Georgia. You can find me at Georgia Terlachy on X and you can find Jessica and I both on StorytellingSavesTheWorld.

Georgia Terlaje: com. 

Jessica Pack: On behalf of everyone here at ISTE's The [00:38:00] Edge podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, fostering your creativity, and continue taking risks. All things that can bring you 

Laura Thomas: to the edge.