iLEAD Online Facilitator Invites Learners, Staff to Practice Mindfulness
Education is a creative endeavor. Educators have daily challenges that require creative ideas and responses. These include lesson planning, projects, assessments, interventions and more. But for many, there’s still more creativity to share. Enter iLEAD Online facilitator Natalie Teichmann and her mindfulness course.
Teichmann is a full-time facilitator at iLEAD Online, whose classes range from French and Spanish to yoga. A 10-year teaching veteran, Teichmann has lived and worked in France, Spain, Australia, Venezuela, Texas and now Southern California. And she believes mindfulness offers something for everyone.
Recently Teichmann created the new online class Be Alive: A Mindfulness Course, a semester-long offering from iLEAD Online to make life fuller and richer for learners in middle and high school, according to Teichmann.
“I am passionate about social-emotional learning, and my mindfulness course allows students to dive into their inner worlds and feel their best,” said Teichmann.
Stemming from her 1,000 hours of instruction as a yoga facilitator, as well as her advanced education degree with a concentration in mindfulness from Antioch University New England, Teichmann was inspired to create a new course accessible to all iLEAD learners in middle and high school.
According to Teichmann, the course has five foundational goals for every participant:
- To reflect on current habits and actions.
- To learn to listen to one’s body to better understand one’s needs.
- To be mindful of one’s actions, choices and how they affect the mind and body.
- To respond instead of react to stressful situations.
- To check in with oneself daily to influence mood.
Teichmann said the course has a weekly theme, such as mindful emotions, mindful communication or mindful choices. Additionally, learners focus on one of the mindfulness practices and perform an application exercise, in which they relate the theme to their real life and then reflect on it.
“Learners write about their experience with the topic of the week and then offer each other encouragement in their journeys,” said Teichmann. “It is so beautiful and inspiring to witness their dialogues.”
Teichmann said students come into the class with varying expectations: some think mindfulness will work like magic, and others think it will be challenging. However, according to Teichmann, to benefit from the class, a learner needs only an open mind and willingness to reflect on oneself. “This class asks learners to minimize their distractions and turn their attention inward to discover more of who they really are,” she said. “It is a beautiful guided process of self-discovery.”
Teichmann said this course provides learners with skills they need in their everyday lives. If they’re feeling stressed or having trouble with family or friends, the class will give them tools to address those issues. She said many school programs miss the focus on personal well-being and how it affects children’s quality of life.
“I wish I had learned as a child how to manage my emotions and reflect on my actions mindfully,” said Teichmann. “By bringing attention and reflection to these daily matters, we start to cultivate more self-awareness, kindness, grit and curiosity.”
In addition to providing this course for learners, Teichmann has worked with iLEAD facilitators and staff on concepts related to mindfulness. iLEAD Director of Humanities and Innovation Angie Nastovoska recalled a session Teichmann facilitated during professional development for staff. “She used tuning forks to ‘tune up’ our lives and help us get ready for the day,” said Nastoska. “She infused well-being throughout the work and helped all of us reflect on lifelong habits of health.”
Ultimately, Teichmann believes this course aligns perfectly with iLEAD’s core philosophies of project-based, social-emotional and even lifelong learning and that it also fits into the framework of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “This course emphasizes a growth mind-set based on compassion and kindness toward oneself. When we are kind to ourselves, we are then more kind to others,” said Teichmann. “This is critical in working with others. Mindfulness also increases focus, which is needed in any field.”