In Garrison, N.Y., along the banks of the Hudson River, lies a renovated monastery that is home to the Garrison Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to contemplative teaching, which focuses on inner healing and awareness. Over 150 teachers from around the U.S. gathered in early November at this scenic retreat for a symposium, “Advancing the Science and Practice of Contemplative Learning.”
According to the Garrison Institute’s Communication Director Steve Kent, the national discourse on education focuses on salient issues such as testing and teacher pay. Mounting research, however, shows that addressing the inner lives of teachers may combat these associated stresses and help reduce teacher burnout rates. Social-emotional learning, including yoga, meditation, reflective journaling and breathing awareness, is promoted by the Garrison Institute as a necessary component of professional development in managing a classroom. Using these techniques, the institute developed CARE: Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education, a professional development guide.
“Most teachers haven’t been given the skills needed to manage social emotional behaviors,” says Patricia Jennings, director of Contemplation and Education at the Garrison Institute. “We train them on how to recognize students’ needs so they can retain their love for teaching rather than feeling exhausted.”
The Garrison Institute offers a summer program annually focused on CARE techniques for teachers. For additional help, districts can reach out to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a nonprofit, which advocates for social and emotional science.