Armed with Love

All of the talk lately about school shootings and arming teachers reminded me of one of my heroes.  Antoinette Tuff was the school bookkeeper in DeKalb County Georgia who in 2013 single-handedly prevented a school shooting by disarming the potential gunman.  Did she have a weapon? No.  But she was armed with calm, kindness, and compassion.  These crucial social and emotional skills helped her to save the lives of countless children and their teachers.  

As the full-time Peace Teacher at my school teaching more than five hundred kids every week I see a big part of my role as triage. I do my best to look out for the lonely, angry ones, the ones who always seem to be alone, the ones who aren’t connecting with the other kids. I don’t know anything about their reading or math skills. There are other wonderful teachers to take care of that. All I’m concerned with is their hearts and happiness. I’m lucky to work with an amazing SEL team who can take it from there and dig in and help. Why are schools spending more and more money on guards and staff whose sole purpose is to break up fights and discipline kids? Why doesn’t every school have a Peace teacher? Why isn’t this the most urgent need? Continue reading

Neuroscience and Mindfulness in Early Childhood

What can 4 and 5 year olds learn about neuroscience and their brains? As it turns out, plenty! This week we finished up our Peace of Mind Pre-K and K unit on the brain, and it never fails to amaze me how much these little brains are soaking up. When we first started out five weeks ago, the words “hippocampus” and “amygdala” were so foreign and strange on their tongues (pickle-campus and hippo-camper were two of my favorite bungles) and truthfully, felt strange to me as an educator to be teaching, too.

“Maybe this is too much for them,” I thought. “Maybe I need to slow it down a little more, or come up with cutesy phrases like “wise owl” instead of “Pre-frontal cortex.” But by the second class, I was impressed that several kids were already using their hippocampi to recall all these terms and facts after just one lesson! By the third and fourth weeks, more kids joined in with recalling the three parts of the brain we had been learning and what each part does. As the material became less novel and more familiar, our enjoyment of the content increased too.

At Peace of Mind,  we believe that this knowledge helps children better understand their emotions, behaviors, and reactions, which leads to increased self-control and self-management. Continue reading