Mindfulness and Teaching

During my years as a teacher, I found that mindfulness practice helped me manage my classroom. When I was practicing regularly, I found that I could handle challenging behaviors with more composure. I took student behaviors less personally and could more often respond thoughtfully, rather than react unconsciously to stressful classroom situations. As a result, I found I could more effectively orchestrate the social and emotional dynamics of my classroom in a way that promoted optimal learning.

When I joined the faculty of a teacher education program and spent 15 years supervising student teachers and teaching classroom management I began to realize how much my mindfulness practice was really helping me. Every week I spent hours observing student teachers and their supervisors, and I noticed how their stress and emotional reactivity interfered with their classroom management. However, at the time, I wasn’t sure how to teach others mindfulness and it was long before we had such a large body of evidence of the positive effects of mindfulness.

Today, a growing body of research is demonstrating that mindfulness-based interventions improve a variety of dimensions of wellbeing among adults, including reduced stress, improved resilience to stress, and improved emotion regulation. For the past decade, I have devoted my research to studying teacher stress and applying mindfulness-based approaches to reducing teacher stress with the aim of improving teaching and student learning. Read more…

Guest Author

Tish Jennings

Patricia "Tish" Jennings

Associate Professor of Education

Math Is a Language Too

My Journey from Curry to a School for Learning Differences

Believe it or not, my training and study in Curry’s foreign language instruction program has made me the math teacher I am today.

I told my future employers that as a French and mathematics teacher, I treated math like another language, the language of numbers and symbols. My French background and foreign language masters degree would be an asset to helping students learn what math communicates via graphs and tables and lines.

The strategies I learned to teach students French applies to communicating numbers, too.  I’m constantly amazed at how the second language acquisition theory and the philosophy of teaching foreign language that I learned at Curry pervade my middle school math classroom.

I teach at The Hill Center, a private school for students with learning differences, in Durham, NC.  My students have ADD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and other learning differences that make them struggle in traditional public, private, charter, and home schools (my students pull from all these different schools). They come to the Hill Center for a small learning environment and differentiated instruction that meets their specific learning needs. They leave with a level of confidence and strong level of learning autonomy. It’s an amazing place to work. Read more…

Guest Author

Sara Hudspeth and kids

Sarah Hudspeth

M.T. ’08 Foreign Lang Ed

4 Things Prospective Teachers Should Ask Themselves

Guest post by
Jennifer Brener
(M.T. ’10 Soc Studies)

The record-breaking snow for the East Coast and the subsequent snow days for the local public schools is enough to make anyone consider becoming a teacher. Before you start looking into enrolling in the Curry School, here are a few questions to ask yourself to find out if the job is for you.

Do you love children/adolescents?

Yes, you think children are cute but do you really love them? Students, just like adults, have good and bad days. Anyone can love a student on a good day: they come prepared for class, are respectful to their peers and adults, and thank you for teaching their class. A true teacher loves children even on their worst days: they have an emotional breakdown in your class, say the most disrespectful things you have ever heard to your face, and refuse to do any kind of work. If you can love children at their worst, you have accomplished the first step toward building a trusting relationship with them and teaching may be a good career for you. Read more…

Guest Author

Jennifer Brener

M.T. '10 Soc Studies

Accelerating Promising Education Ventures

Here’s the typical knock on America’s colleges of education: They’re detached from the education field and actual classroom practice, the research they produce is low-quality and not useful, and the teachers they train are no better than those coming into the profession through alternate routes.

Let’s be honest, there is too much truth to all of that. But it’s not universal, and the new Jefferson Education Accelerator launched last month is a good example of the kind of leadership potential that exists in the nation’s colleges of education.

A public-private initiative cultivated by the Curry School of Education, the Jefferson Education Accelerator puts Curry, and Charlottesville more generally, at the leading edge of educational change in this country. The accelerator will work with and invest in promising educational ventures.  It will help them get better, and they will help the Curry School stay connected to the newest ideas and trends in the education sector. Read more…

Guest Author

Andrew Rotherham

Andrew J. Rotherham

M.Ed. '00 Soc Fdns

Honoring Childhood Alongside Academics

As a former educator, I completely understand the need for schools to focus heavily on academics, to be concerned with standardized test scores, and to maximize minutes and time in the classroom.  However, as a mother, I fear that in our race to fill minds, we are far too often failing to honor childhood.

When I was in early elementary school, I remember having morning and afternoon recess each day, going to P.E. every day of the week, taking walks outside, doing lots of arts and crafts in the classroom, putting on goulashes to play outside on drizzly days and snow boots to play outside on snowy days.  Unless there was torrential rain or severe weather, we always went out for recess.  In fact, much of our day was filled with exploration and fun.  It was wonderful.  The teachers knew that we needed it. The teachers knew that they needed it!  School was for learning, but it was also for children.

I have a son in first grade and a daughter who will soon enter kindergarten.  They have had fabulous teachers, both in preschool and in elementary school.  They are in schools where the administration and faculty have deep concern for children.  They are in good places.  But even still, I wonder how their educational experience would be different if they had more time to run, play, and move.  Longer recesses — or more recesses.  More creative outlets.  Nature walks.  More P.E. time.  I understand the challenge of all of this — truly I do.  But these are the things that make childhood special and Read more…

Guest Author

Marcy Klug and Family

Marcy Klug

M.T. '04 Sci Ed