I had just finished an outdoor mindfulness workshop for the Kindergarten students at Janet McDougald PS. I was feeling energized after this workshop and was happy to bump into my friend and colleague, Dr. Julie Middleton in the corridor. Julie recently completed her Ph. D., conducting research about how instructional coaching, as a form of professional learning, shapes mathematics instruction. Julie was interested in what I was doing with my mindfulness workshops and I was interested in learning more about her understanding of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in the new Ontario math curriculum.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a methodology that helps students of all ages better understand their emotions, feel those emotions fully, and demonstrate empathy for others. These learned behaviours are then used to help students make positive, responsible decisions; create frameworks to achieve their goals, and build positive relationships with others. (https://www.nu.edu/resources)
In 2021, the Ontario government revamped the math curriculum and added SEL as a strand. The rationale for this was that SEL skills such as self-awareness and self-management help all learners develop confidence, cope with challenges, and think critically. This in turn enables them to improve and demonstrate mathematics knowledge, concepts, and skills in a variety of situations. Social-Emotional Learning skills help every student develop a positive identity as a capable “math learner”. (https://www.dcp.edu.gov.on.ca/)
Julie had a deep understanding of how SEL and math were connected and I had a deep understanding of how SEL and mindfulness were connected.
And that is how math met mindfulness!
One conversation turned into many and now Julie and I have joined forces and are researching how students’ attitudes about mathematics, specifically having a growth mindset, might be shaped by mindful practices.
Since February, we have led regular workshops in Julie’s split grade 1 and 2 class and have documented our journey and our research.
Stay tuned for what the research reveals.