Heart-Mind Well-Being Professional Development Workshops Begin

Tracy Smyth

In an elementary school on Vancouver Island, the first Professional-Development day of the year was spent learning about the Dalai Lama Center’s (DLC) Heart-Mind Well-Being Framework and exploring practical, evidence-informed strategies to make social and emotional learning a focus in every classroom. Tracy Smyth, Senior Editor of the DLC’s learning resource website, Heart-Mind Online, facilitated the Pro-D workshop.  
 
Science tells us that we can influence the Heart-Mind well-being of children in four primary ways; creating nurturing environments, building caring relationships, teaching social skills and ensuring that adults who care for children are supported. Heart-Mind Online is a collection of resources that cultivate social and emotional capacity using these four strategies. Workshop participants practiced ways to build an emotional vocabulary, researched activities to promote the qualities of Heart-Mind well-being, connected their own experiences with the science, and chose personally relevant ways to use Heart-Mind Online.
 
  - The concept that stood out for me was that these skills are teachable and should be explicitly taught!
 
  - As a result of this workshop, I’m going to select one of the five positive human qualities each term and focus on it as my social responsibility activity.
 
  - I love that this isn’t a “program” and that the framework is broad and I can pick and choose strategies that fit my situation.
 
  - I look forward to trying out the lesson plans from Heart-Mind Online!
 

At one point during the workshop, a small group was challenged to connect “juggling” as a strategy to promote skills such as problem solving, impulse control, creativity and perseverance. By exploring the resources on Heart-Mind Online, they discovered that learning a new and engaging activity fires off neurons in a positive way. Dancing, circus arts, music, theatre and sports are all predicted to significantly strengthen these executive functions in the brain. The group not only attempted to juggle for their peers (while explaining the reasoning behind the strategy), but they also then adapted the activity to incorporate First Nations drumming!
 
The session wrapped up with comments by the Superintendent of School District 70, who made a commitment to use the Heart-Mind Well-Being Framework to guide the school district in deepening its understanding of well-being, in identifying and applying practices and strategies to improve well-being in schools, and in engaging families and communities in a collective effort to improve child and youth well-being.
 
The Dalai Lama Center team plans to continue facilitating local professional development workshops to help integrate the Heart-Mind Well-Being Framework into teaching practice, and assist in aligning to the province’s new curriculum and core competencies.
 

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