Teachers and principals can be at the heart of the solution, serving as the catalyst of protection and as healing agents for those children affected by trauma, violence and crisis. We see teachers and principals as agents of mediation. For some students, an agent of mediation is someone listening to their fears and concerns; for others it is someone helping them problem solve or learn new ways to handle situations and conflicts. Teachers and principals also establish cultures of healing.
Educators will only optimize the learning success of children when we shift from a focus on academics and learning in academic environments to a more balanced understanding of the children in our classrooms. The children we are teaching will only thrive and flourish when we meet children where they are; when we teach with a full realization of how to mindfully instruct in a way that pulls each child into the excitement of learning, and when we build neural pathways that help children overcome trauma and expand their confidence and self-esteem.
During Phase I of the Heart Centered approach, CEI, in conjunction with Thrivist and ClassGather, created over 70 web-based tools to further 21st Century Heart Centered Education. The tools provide a resource for teacher professional learning communities and teams to engage in visioning, planning, and monitoring to meet the unique needs and strengths of teachers, classrooms, students, and schools. With these tools and our technical assistance, we help teachers, principals, and educational leaders with the conscious application of neuroscience, opening doors to justice, equity, and student voice, and a paradigm shift to create havens of healing and success. We envision more webinars, eConferences, and mini-Certification. Working with dedicated educators like Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy, Suzan Mullane, Paul Liabenow, and Mark Weiss; neuroscientists such as Dr. Bruce Wexler; engineering educators such as Liz Parry; astronomers such as Kevin Manning; an amazing board and team; and a host of CEI supporters, we are striving to help schools excel, to help educators become more mindful, and to help children thrive.
At schools implementing parts of the CEI vision -- schools that are focused on kindness and compassion, for example, principals report that there is increased consideration and kindness, more cooperation, and more student resiliency. At schools that have implemented the recommended neuroscience components, students are demonstrating improvements in focus, memory, and achievement in reading and math. We believe we are only now beginning to see the potential impact of the heart centered approach.
As we enter Phase II of Heart Centered implementation, we have set goals for increased use of the program, particularly at the elementary and middle school levels, and we have targeted specific states as the most likely places for concentrated efforts. During Phase II, we intend to not only gain a better understanding of our suggested cycle of visioning, planning, implementation, and refinement, but also to collect data on the impact of our program in schools. While we have schools lined up as demonstration sites, we are seeking funds to implement demonstration projects and envision that those demonstration projects will give us further insights into the next steps.Note: In developing our approach we relied on current research on student learning, overcoming trauma, and implementing change. We also networked with a group of principal leaders who continue to serve as an informal advisory council to the project. With even nominal funds we might expand our resources to advise schools, to provide the technical assistance needed for them to lead teachers through a cycle of visioning, planning, implementation, and refinement.