I have just returned from the park from a lovely weekend walk with new puppy Bramble. (A Scottie – Cairn Terrier Cross who is as cute as the Dickens but more about him on another occasion no doubt.)
As I stood in the muddy park puddles, in my non glamorous brown boots and my equally non glamorous black padded jacket which makes me look like Kenny from South Park, I found myself listening, just listening to the birds in the trees and contemplating how delightful it is to stop statue-still and breathe. Aaah!
Wednesday 5th January was our first day back at The Spinney and the training day we had organised was with Mind Up from The Goldie Hawn Foundation. The training was amazing. Very informative and stimulating and also great fun! Such a lovely way to start the term. Rachel Bailey was our Mind Up Trainer and we were very fortunate to have also been joined by Julia Organ who is the Uk Director of Education and Training.
Mind Up is a teaching framework of 15 lessons based on 4 pillars through which the children, school colleagues and community learn about Neuroscience, Mindful Awareness, Positive Psychology and Social and Emotional Learning. It is very inspiring to know that the children will be learning about parts of their brain, how they work and how they influence feelings and actions. Learning about the brain is just one of the 4 pillars but one that I know the children will love to learn about and thanks to our research links with the PEDAL Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development & Learning as well as Cambridge Neuroscience The Spinney educators and children are becoming well-versed in the importance of the role of self-regulation in learning.
We are just at the very start of our Mind Up journey and, whilst thanks to a number of pedagogic and curriculum approaches including PHSE, SEAL , Outdoor Learning and SEAS4ALL as well as our whole school ethos that promotes cooperation and harmony we know that we already have a lot in place, we are excited to see what three calming brain breaks throughout the day will do to continue to contribute towards our school ‘s positive climate.
I was fortunate to meet the Mind Up Uk Director Julia at the Ashoka Changemaker Schools Summit in Ireland where we were offered an initial taster session. The Spinney is an Ashoka Changemaker School one of a network of 15 schools in England and one of over 200 in the World. Being part of this network, connecting with Changemakers and schools across the globe inspires us to think broadly about the purpose and meaning of education, and the importance of giving our young people the skills, knowledge, attitudes and attributes to navigate the future.
One of the key ideas which threads through the Mind Up framework is that while it is true that some people may be born with a propensity for happiness, happiness is not innate and it can be taught, it can be learnt and the level of happiness we experience can be a choice!
Daily Acts of Gratitude is one way to increase our happiness quota! As part of the training Spinney colleagues were invited to stand in a circle, pass around a beautifully painted stone and name something we were grateful for. Responses included family, friends, great colleagues to work with and so on and by the time all 32 of us we had stated what we were thankful for, our instinct was to applaud the positivity of the experience!
Another aspect that resonated greatly is that Mind Up aims to promote the idea of Optimistic Schools. The Spinney has 7 values which underpin the life and work of the school. These are child-centredness, teamwork and community, excellence, learning, improvement, responsibility and optimism.
With all the politicisation and polarisation in the educational landscape I think it is so important that for the sake of the young people and our colleagues we aim to remain resolutely hopeful and optimistic. (#flamingosofhope not lemmings of despair!)
So back to Bramble and me in the park. It may be the effect of climate change that has brought the chaffinches out to sing more loudly from the branches than usual, or it may have been the positive effect of the Mind Up training on Wednesday which caused me to stop, stand and listen mindfully to the birds this morning, whichever it was and I’d like to think it was the latter, it felt good for my soul, positive for my spirit and will hopefully help me to sustain my emotional balance and well-being as one week ends and another one is about to begin.
Have a lovely week everyone.