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Strategies Shared with Pre-Conference Workshop Participants on Building Resilient School Leaders and Schools

How do you create safe spaces for adults and children in your school system as they learn and interact together?

An AASA preconference session Wednesday on Mindful Leadership and Resilience: Leading with Well-Being in Mind offered insights and strategies to answer that question for a group of highly engaged superintendents and school leaders at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas. Dido Balla, who heads up education at MindUp for Life, even started the session with a two-minute activity that got everyone talking, connecting and, by design, feeling safe.

Andy DuRoss, superintendent, and Erin Knoll, associate superintendent, both with School District 54 in Schaumburg, Ill., are leading their district’s implementation of these resilience strategies and approaches, engaging adults to build a school culture that has a positive ripple effect on students. The work is resulting in better stress regulation and improved student outcomes, they reported at the afternoon workshop.

Superintendents were asked to think of a recent frustrating or stressful experience, reflecting on how their brains likely reacted and how they dealt with those reactions. In relating stories, session participants learned additional strategies to support their own well-being and the resilience of their staff, including one superintendent who called her sister, also a superintendent, to get advice before she reacted. 

MindUP™ is part of the Goldie Hawn Foundation, which was “founded to help children develop the knowledge and tools they need to manage stress, regulate emotions and face the challenges of the 21st century with optimism, resilience and compassion.”

The MindUp’s social emotion curriculum for children and adults is based on neuroscience, mindful awareness, social emotional learning and positive psychology.

(Rebecca Salon is a reporter for Conference Daily Online and a consultant on disability policy issues in Silver Spring, Md.)

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