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Resilient Mindful Learner Project: Stress Management for Teachers and Students

​​​​​​​​​​We teach students reading and math, but we leave stress management skills entirely to chance.

Madison School Deep BreathingWhy Focus on Resilience and Stress ​​​Management?

Unmitigated stress impacts both students and teachers. For students, stress is the enemy of learning and impacts their ability to focus, remember, pay attention, self-regulate their emotions, and manage their behavior, thus jeopardizing their academic, social and emotional development. Children who have experienced early, chronic trauma such as family or community violence can develop emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and relationship difficulties that can make it very difficult for them to learn and function well in school (Cole et al. 2005). For teachers, meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of students can take a toll making burnout and emotional fatigue a present reality. Both teachers and students can benefit by supports and skills that can help them cope healthfully with their stress, build their resiliency and flourish in the academic setting and in their personal lives.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Develop the capacity of classroom teachers to gain knowledge about adult and youth resiliency, stress, its impacts on mind, body and performance, and ways to promote resilience and emotional competence.
  • Support teachers to develop their own resilience and learn practices to healthfully manage their stress including mindful awareness.
  • Train and coach teachers to integrate student stress management and self-regulation practices within their daily classroom management practice.
Resilient Mindful Learning Project for Orange County Teachers
The Orange County Health Care Agency has funded the Resilient Mindful Learner Project for Orange County, CA classroom teachers from 2016-2020.  The project is offered each semester for a cohort of teachers who apply. 
 The project components include:
  • 7 weekly after-school trainings sessions
  • Classroom visit to support teaching practice
  • A one-day Mindfulness Retreat
  • Collegial cohort model
  • Stipend

Requirement: For classroom-based teachers with a consistent roster of students from public, private, or charter K-12.  A minimum of two teachers per school must apply together. 

Spring 2020 was the final cohort.

What Orange County teachers are saying about the impact of the​ training...

  • "I notice...with the kids, when things are getting noisy, they say 'oh! should we go into a breathing exercise?' It's showing up, throughout our work and in our day, and instead of yelling at them, we just stop and breathe and fall back into a rhythm. And it only take a few minutes."
  • "The students say ...when they can’t sleep they will do it (breathing exercise), or in the middle of the night they will wake up and they will do it and fall back to sleep."
  • "I have one student who was recently been diagnosed with diabetes and she says that she uses the practices when she goes to the doctor’s office to help calm her down."
  • "The fact that she (trainer) had us practice first before we actually introduced the practices to our students was terrific , because we could walk the talk."
About the Resilient Mindful​​​ Learner Project

Check out the research, presentations, videos, and podcast below.

Presentation of the RML Project to the California Dept of Education Student Mental Health Policy Workshop
​A slide deck on the project with the latest research outcomes from a control group study of pre- and post-training teacher outcomes.

Mindfulness for Students and the Adults Who Lead Them
School administrators have complex jobs. Mindfulness offers strategies and practices to help leaders manage and care for themsleves, so they can mange and care for others. ACSA

Mindfulness-based Practices for Schools
Mindfulness is a promising approach to teaching educators and students self-awareness and self-regulation skills associated with success in school and through adulthood. WestEd

NPR: Mindfulness Trainers Reaching Out to School Principals
A podcast about the Resilient Mindful Learner Summer Institute by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, 1/71/17​

Self-Care and Stress Management for Leaders
​This one-hour presentation offers a brief overview of stress, the relaxation response, and ways to build a personal stress-reduction plan to become more resilient.

Summary and collection of peer-reviewed research on the emerging field of mindfulness education in schools.

A list of selected articles, with brief descriptions of each study and its results, which provides an overview of the current research on mindfulness in education.

Self and Collective Care of Youth-Serving Adults
This archived webinar video by REL and WestEd presents a rationale for providing stress-management supports to adults who serve youth. One of the programs highlighted is the OCDE Resilient Mindful Learner project that provides stress management and mindfulness training for teachers and training to integrate into the classroom routine stress-reduction practices for students.

Presentation at Southern Region Student Wellness Conference, July 2015

Anaheim Elementary School District Newsletter article reporting  on two schools that participated as  part of a twelve-month project funded by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA). ​ (pp 2-3)​​

Videos of Students Practicing Stress-coping Skills
The Pilot Pr​​oject

From March 2013 through March 2014, fourteen teachers from 7 Title I schools in Orange County participated in a year-long professional development program to integrate resilience and stress management strategies into their daily classroom management practices. Participating schools included James Madison Elementary and Palm Lane Elementary in Anaheim Elementary School District, Danbrook Elementary in Centralia Elementary School District, Rea Elementary in Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Los Positas Elementary in La Habra City School District, Lambert Elementary in Tustin Unified School District, and Christ Cathedral Academy. The teacher cohort met monthly at the Orange County Department of Education. An evaluation was completed on both teacher and student outcomes. Key teacher outcomes include:

  • Frequency of feelings of competence and successful achievement in their work went up from pre-survey to post-survey and the increase was statistically significant from pre-survey to mid-year-survey.
  • Frequency and intensity of discipline and motivation went down significantly indicating that classroom discipline and behavior problems improved and students were also more motivated to learn.