Frequently Asked Questions
Calm Classroom Basics
Results and Metrics
Calm Classroom Basics
Q: Why do we need mindfulness programs in our schools?
Mindfulness is an important life skill for both teachers and students. Here are 5 of the most frequent and important effects that are reported by students, teachers and administrators.
Teacher testimony–as well as extensive neurological, and clinical medical research–indicates mindfulness is a proven intervention for reducing stress and anxiety.
Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can strengthen neural networks in our brains and improve executive functioning and our capacity to focus.
Mindfulness is a tool that can help your students notice and regulate the emotions of anger, frustration and anxiety. Nearly 90% of teachers participating in Calm Classroom say that their students are better able to regulate their emotions.
Creating and maintaining a safe and calm culture and climate in the school is needed for learning to be nurtured. Over 90% of the teachers who have participated in Calm Classroom’s program, for example, say that their students are calmer and more peaceful.
A school-based mindfulness program can also improve teacher well-being and reduce staff burnout. Teacher and administrator turnover is one the most disruptive circumstances in schools and a major expense to district budgets. Over 80% of teachers participating in Calm Classroom reported a reduction in stress and anxiety in themselves and felt more physically relaxed.
Q: How does the program work? Is it a daily program? Do you do a little bit each day, or is it like a six-week program? What does it look like?
The program is designed to be done 5 days per week thought-out the school year. It uses from 6-9 minutes of classroom time and can be integrated into normal classroom transitions.
If we're looking at the kindergarten through fifth grade, the program is usually done on a universal school-wide basis. It is taught three times a day, most commonly 1st thing in the morning, and as part of transitions between subjects and class periods (e.g.-, when students arrive in the classroom from lunch, recess or other activities).
Our full-day preschool classrooms also teach 3 times per day, but the activities themselves tend to be shorter–about one to two minutes rather than the three minutes for the techniques in the 1st-12th grade manuals.
From 6th grade up–or when students are operating in departmentalized environments–the teachers and administrators choose the times that they're going to teach. They post those times, and the students engage in helping the teacher lead the program. 6th -12th grade classrooms typically conduct the program two times per day.
Special education classrooms adapt the techniques to the particular development and behavioral needs of their students, and often teach the techniques more than 3 times per day as needed.
Q: How many activities are there and how does the daily schedule roll-out?
There are roughly 40-45 techniques in each of the manuals – That is, the PreK, Elementary and the 6-12th grade books.
We recommend that teachers teach the same set of two or three techniques each day for an entire week, before moving on to the next set of practices. This helps students familiarize themselves with certain concepts and add them to their repertoire of stress management tools.
Q: Should students or teachers lead the activities from the scripts or use your audio recordings?
Since mindfulness is very much about building quality and connected human relationships, we believe that teachers leading the activities from the scripts is more effective than using audio recordings of the practices. Anecdotal evidence from classrooms also seems to support this. That being said, we provide audio recordings as an option that can be useful in remote learning environments or when substitute teachers who have not been trained are leading the class in practice. The recordings can also serve as a guide for tone and cadence as teachers familiarize themselves with the practices. Teachers can choose to lead the techniques from the scripts, or use the audio or video streaming recordings.
We also have a series of video and music-based recordings in English and Spanish that use visuals of nature as a way to relax the viewer’s experience. These can be very useful in special education settings or during times of relaxed activity in the classroom. For students who feel the need to keep their eyes open during practices–we typically recommend closing your eyes–-the videos can provide relaxing imagery as an alternative.
Q: What does the 1st year program include?
Your 1st year program would include all printed classroom manuals and access to our digital classroom portal. Training options include e-Learning and train-the-trainer or direct-to-staff workshops for both teachers and administrators.
Q: What implementation model works best?
Level 4 - A combination of school-wide and district-wide is the most effective model. This model provides the most opportunities for district-level and local school administrators to support the program implementation and ensure accountability. This format is more likely to generate a measurable impact on the school culture and community.
Level 3 - Next is the format for school-wide implementation that allows each separate school administrator the choice to opt-in to the program for their entire school. District leadership will be able to measure results and accountability for the opt-in schools. Principals will feel a sense of agency and personal responsibility within their choice to participate in the program. The ability to support teacher participation and ownership is easily conducted during staff and planning meetings. Students take the program more seriously since it is being given across the school in a uniform manner.
Level 2 - District-wide teacher opt-in implementation with centralized professional learning is another way to go. The pros are: Teachers who opt-in may naturally be enthusiastic and demonstrate higher levels of fidelity with less support. Teachers who are already feeling and complaining about being overwhelmed are not forced to add one more thing to their schedule by their administrators. On the other hand, without principal and peer support opt-in teachers may feel isolated and initial enthusiasm may wane. This leads to lower attendance in the on-going teacher support workshops and greater difficulty in the collection of surveys and program measurement. Students will get mixed messaging from their teachers regarding the value and seriousness of the program.
Level 1 - The least impactful model that I've seen some school districts implement is just to order our manuals and e-Learning for their teachers. The district may or may not require completion of the eLearning course which can be easily monitored. These schools tend not to look for or specifically measure results, but are approaching this as another SEL option for the teacher's toolbox.
Q: Is the program in classrooms always done proactively?
The program can also be done ad hoc, such as in response to a disturbance in the classroom (e.g. - when a teacher has to raise their voice or send someone out of the room, or a general disturbance like a fire drill). Teachers use this as a way to refocus the class and resume academic work.
Q: Can we teach it over the PA in the schools?
Most schools do not use the PA to lead the techniques since teachers need to prepare the students more organically, and may not be ready to teach at the exact same time. In some schools, the office staff will announce “It's time for Calm Classroom!” just to remind the teachers to conduct the program.
Q: How do the administrators and counselors use the program with students?
The program shows up as part of Tier 2 and Tier 3 counseling meetings. It's very common that whoever is responsible for conducting disciplinary meetings or gatherings in groups around behavior problems will start those meetings with a Calm Classroom practice. The students are already familiar with the techniques from classroom practice, so they know what to expect, and it just helps them get more prepared and present for being in the meeting.
Q: If we need to phase into the program as a pilot what would you suggest for our K-8th grade school district?
We recommend that you work with a school-wide implementation model that allows each separate school administrator the choice to opt-in to the program for their entire school. Each principal should agree to: have all of their staff lead the program 3 times per day in all classrooms; begin the weekly staff and/or planning meetings with Calm Classroom techniques and a few minutes of group discussion on program successes and challenges; coordinate the completion of two teacher-feedback and evaluation surveys during the 1st year of the program; meet with district leadership to discuss program results; and have the district should share the survey results and written testimonials from the participating school administrators.
Q: Please discuss the content in the four 1st year staff workshops that our district coaches would be trained to lead.
All of the workshops are 45 minutes in length and combine varied approaches to learning that include: teaching and receiving the techniques among the participants, dyad sharing in breakout rooms, large group verbal sharing, lecture, video animation, chat-based sharing, reading and reflections, constructive feedback and journal writing. The workshops fit easily into normal full-staff or weekly small-group planning meetings
The first workshop focuses on preparing the teachers to launch the program and is given after they complete the e-Learning course. Teachers review and discuss insights from the e-Learning course, practice teaching the techniques, and prepare to introduce the program to students. A special student activity for supporting student mindfulness reflection is introduced.
The second workshop provides a venue for teachers to check in and share program successes and address implementation challenges. New perspectives on post-technique reflection discussions are introduced. Participants discuss the topic of self-care and explore beliefs and misconceptions around caring for themselves and others.
The third staff workshop explores different ways that the teachers can begin to care for their own mental, emotional and physical health. Teachers are encouraged to focus on a personally relevant area of self-care. They learn to lead their students in an activity centered on self-care and mental health. New perspectives on classroom mindfulness techniques are introduced.
The fourth and last workshop for the school year the conversation shifts from self-care to community care, and participants reflect on someone who has supported them on their path as an educator. They discuss how they can care for one another and learn to lead their students in an activity centered on the topic of community care. New perspectives on classroom mindfulness techniques are introduced.
Q: Will whoever desires to implement the program need training from your organization directly or could we do a train-the-trainer?
We offer a train-the-trainer approach for district projects. We support the coaches from your district throughout the year. It is not a one-and-done approach. We have a series of three or four 75-minute meetings with the district coaches that were training. They in turn teach this new content to facilitators in the schools or directly to the teachers.
Q: Can you explain your train-the-trainer program?
Our local school or district-wide train-the-trainer model is conducted virtually with a combination of e-Learning and 3 ninety-minute interactive zoom workshops scheduled throughout the school year. We train either local school or district coaches who will then be prepared to present four 45-minute professional learning workshops to teachers. These workshops are either performed virtually or on-site.
We also meet with the district administrators before the training to assist with planning, as well as at two other times during the school year to review staff surveys, analyze program progress, and determine changes that may need to be made.
Results and Metrics
Q: How do you measure the results of the program on students and teachers?
The teachers participate in an 8-minute digital survey twice per year. The first survey happens about four to six weeks after rollout in your first year, and then again near the end of the school year. After each survey, we generate a report and conduct oversight and planning meetings with the school and district administrators. We look at each school individually and the district as a whole.
Q: What criteria and attributes are measured in the survey
The core attributes we ask teachers to evaluate their students for include: being calmer, being better able to regulate emotions, being ready to learn, the ability to transition between classes more smoothly, student enjoyment levels, and their rating of the overall effectiveness of the program.
For teachers themselves, we measure: frequency of program implementation, the practice of mindfulness in their private lives and with their peers at work, general support for implementing positive self-care habits in their lives, being better able to manage anxiety and stress, the effectiveness of training and support workshops, the ability to relax the body, the ability to maintain focus on the people and task at hand, and a greater awareness of one’s thoughts and emotions both in the classroom and at home.
Q: How will the program be supported in continuing years?
After the 1st year implementation, we continue to offer: printed manuals and e-Learning courses for new staff members, train-the-trainer workshops for new and existing school facilitators, new content for staff professional learning workshops, surveys and data reporting and access to our digital classroom portal that provides digital manuals, streaming for classroom mindfulness videos, audio recordings, and smartphone, tablet and laptop accessibility. Schools also have the option to maintain continuing participation via just using the printed manuals.
Q: How do the administrators participate in the program to help benefit teachers and staff?
Administrative leadership is crucial to maintain fidelity to all non-STEM course work. In particular, programs that are designed to provide life skill training to students and teachers for SEL and Mental Health need some form of positive encouragement from local school administrators. To make that support process easy, on-site principals and administrators lead their staff in Calm Classroom practices at least once per week at the beginning of full staff meetings, weekly grade-level meetings, or planning meetings. In addition, administrators are able to feel the pulse of the program’s progress during the few minutes that they take to lead staff in a mindfulness practice and then ask them about positive stories or challenges that they are experiencing.
Q: What is the reason that our district should use your program instead of having teachers create their own program using free tools?
Here are some of the key reasons to use an outside vendor to help implement mindfulness in a more serious and professional manner:
Experience, credibility, proven results and successful reputation: We have been designing and refining our school mindfulness curriculum and program for the last 14 years and approximately 100,000 teachers and 2,500,000 students have participated in our programs.
We work with some of the largest and most sophisticated school districts in the country, which has taught us what support services are important to provide to ensure program fidelity, success, and satisfaction.
Our services are for schools and districts that want to measure program results that are based on uniform programming being rolled out in their classrooms. This applies to both district-wide top-down implementation or district wide teacher opt-in implementation.
Uniform programs are taken more seriously by both teachers and students, and it makes it easier for the local administrators to support their teachers in implementing the program on a regular basis. To be most effective, mindfulness is best practiced in a steady and regular manner, and our program supports that process.
We also provide ongoing professional development for staff, which encourages community practice that helps teachers manage the stress and anxiety that they are experiencing. It also helps foster a sense of school unity.
A teacher’s time is precious, and we streamline the design, training, and implementation of our program in a way that fits in with the constraints of a teacher’s busy schedule. This shifts undue burden away from teachers and administrators, who would otherwise need to design, test, implement, and refine alternative programs on their own.