2013 Grants Challenge

Mindful Education for LAUSD

Mindfulness in education is a means to significantly improve student attention, enjoyment, and achievement. Our idea is to develop a prototype Mindful Education K-8 public school within LAUSD - either as a charter school or as a pilot school. Our aim is to develop a prototype curriculum, teaching methods, methods of assessment, cognitive research data points and teacher education program with the aim of entering a proposal for consideration to the LAUSD between October and December 2013. The resulting mindful education framework will serve as a working model for continuous learning about the impact of mindfulness in education on student and community "good".

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

El Rio Schools is a new non-profit; our most important achievement, to date, is regularly attended workshops, playgroups and informational gatherings at the Audubon Center at Debs Park of parents in Northeast Los who have an interest in mindfulness in secular public education. We are building the social network for mindfulness in education in Northeast Los Angeles.

Today, 439 people liked our facebook page!

Joan Jaeckel, co-founder, coordinated the successful charter petition writing process for Ocean Charter School, the first Waldorf-inspired publicly chartered school in Los Angeles.

Founding board member, Julia Schacter, produced the Emmy nominated PBS documentary, The First Year.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Research Institute for Waldorf Education

O. Fred Donaldson, Original Play

Robert Anderson, Senior Assessment Researcher, formerly of CA Dept. of Education and WestEd

Dr. Renatta Cooper, First 5 L.A. Comissioner (Ret)

Dr. Bruce Perry, Child Trauma Institute

We will also include other collaborators, i.e. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Mindfulness in Education Network, Mind and Life Institute, Non-Violent Communication

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

We will evaluate the Mindful Education for LAUSD project by the quality of the working relationships: Are people sharing ideas, cooperating for the good of the project and LA2050? Are we able to work constructively and enjoyably with public education officials and city leaders? Has a university become our partner? Are teachers curious and coming to our working sessions and the Original Play Playshop? Is the result original, engaging and replicable? Is it designed to be a working model open to the initiative and autonomy of teachers in the classroom? Ultimately success will be measured by the outcomes of the proposal writing process: (1) Does it mirror our highest intentions of designing a Mindful pedagogical approach to curriculum, instruction, assessment, teacher education AND also meet the expectations of the Common Core? (2) Does the teacher education program teach teachers to teach in creative and playful and active ways - does it inspire them to inspire the students? (3) Does the project attract partnerships and collaborators who will speak for it at the LAUSD hearing (if we submit as a charter) (4) Does LAUSD accept the proposal and will El Rio move forward in 2014-2015 school years as an LAUSD publicly chartered school or an LAUSD pilot school?

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Los Angeles benefits when our public education system serves the needs of the 21st century: People who can initiate and create the new world of work, playful emotionally resilient socially aware people, and people who can think deeply and with imagination. These 21st century needs will be met when our educational system changes to one that is based on a biologically, psychologically, and ontologically correct concept of the human mind in childhood and adolescence. We call this "mind-fit" education. Mind-fit education is mindful education because it enters the reality of the child. When the curriculum, teaching methods, and methods of assessment work in synchronicity with the student's developmental age and individual strengths and capacities learning is irresistible. Educational success, and life success, begins at the K-8. The Mindful Education for LAUSD project will be a test-bed demonstrating its value for every student and especially for traditionally hard-to-reach students. Part of the project will be to track the data-points of success - attendance, engagement, behaviour, and initiative as well as on traditional metrics.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

(1) People in LA will evaluate education in light mindfulness and the age-fitness of the program for children and adolescents as well as the test scores and social equity. A "good" school will be a challenging, mindful, age-fit place where children love to go and enjoy learning and are successful learners. (2) Teachers in LA will have a new hope for their profession as creative, engaging, and powerful. (3) LAUSD schools ADA funding model provides at least $15,000 per year per student as opposed to the current $5,000. As less funding has to go to fixing problems downstream, more funds will go to educating teachers in mindfulness and age-fit instructional capabilities. This will free up funds to go to autonomy in the classroom and less to minding from the top.