In this article, find answers to the following questions:
- What does a typical week look like?
- Will I have access to the teachers for questions and support? How does that work?
- Will there be enough connection even though the course is online?
- Do I have to attend all calls live?
- Are assignments suggestions or required?
- Are there activities that are mandatory for me to attend live?
- How do I teach the curriculum if I do not work in a school?
- What courses or training are required prior to enrollment?
- How does this program differ from SWIP and from Mindful Schools' other courses?
- Do I need to be a professional educator to participate in the program?
- Will I need to purchase additional materials?
- Is everything online, with the exception of the residential retreats?
- What are the requirements for course completion?
- What does this program qualify me to do/not do?
- Is completing the course sufficient for certification?
- How are graduate credits granted for the program, and how many can I earn?
- Do you have any resources for asking my school/administrator/district to help support my participation/pay for my tuition?
- Can I complete the course without attending the retreats? Do I need to attend the same retreat venue for both retreats?
What does a typical week look like?
The goal of the Mindful Teacher Certification program is to support both your deepening personal practice and your deepening practice of teaching mindfulness and teaching mindfully. The program unfolds in monthly modules, so no two consecutive weeks are quite the same. That said, in most weeks you can expect to have some video content to watch (either recorded videos or a live call). You will have reading and up to two short written reflections to complete. During each module, you will be asked to experiment and try something new in your teaching. And in all weeks, you will maintain your own daily mindfulness practice, meditating at least 20 minutes per day.
Will I have access to the teachers for questions and support? How does that work? What does that look like?
Our teaching faculty loves to answer questions! The entire program benefits from the questions that participants raise, as they are rooted in real life, so we encourage participants to bring as many questions as possible to the group--at retreat, in our online classroom, and during live calls.
During the year online, every participant is assigned a Guiding Teacher in the course. Guiding Teachers facilitate your small group cohort, and they will be your go-to contact person for most questions during the year. They will know you best and will be your first source of knowledge and support for all questions during the program. In addition, our full faculty--including the Lead Teachers who are responsible for the design of the course and also the full faculty of all Guiding Teachers--are available on the various live calls (webinars, personal practice support calls, and teaching workshops). There are live calls almost every week, so there is always a chance to talk through your questions.
I’m skeptical about doing something this intensive online. Will there be enough connection between teachers and participants and among the participants?
Community and connection are two of the core values of the Mindful Schools organization and of the Mindful Teacher program. This is why we begin and end the program with intensive residential retreats, which “bookend” your year of study. In addition, we host many live calls in each module, where participants have the chance to ask questions and discuss course material in small groups. Finally, the small cohort groups that meet once per month together are designed to foster relationships and a supportive personal connection among the participants. While we might not be in the same room, time zone, or country, participants relate feeling close bonds with their fellows, often reporting a delight at finding a community of like-minded educators who are doing the same work, and we often have cohorts of participants who form such a close bond over the year that they continue to meet together, even after the completion of the course.
Do I have to attend all calls live?
We do record most live calls, recognizing that we have participants in many different time zones and with many different schedules. While our calls are intended to be interactive and offer participants the chance to ask questions and discuss material in small groups, much of the experience can be gained from watching the recording. The only exception to this is your monthly cohort group call - this is the one call which is not recorded and at which live attendance is mandatory. You will self-select into cohorts at the Opening Retreat; you will be able to choose a cohort that meets at an available time for your schedule.
Are the assignments just suggestions or are they required?
In order to qualify for Course Completion status, participants must complete all assignments in the program. Because we know people have different needs and different teaching situations, participants are always given a choice of several different assignments from which to choose. In each module, there are required “intake” assignments (where participants are taking in information by reading or watching video), an “application” assignment where we ask you to try something new in your teaching, and either one or two written reflection assignments.
Is there anything during the year where live attendance is mandatory?
Once a month, your small cohort group–approximately 8 participants and your Guiding Teacher–have live calls. Group discussion, feedback, and support is an integral part of these calls. These calls are not recorded, and live attendance is mandatory. You will self-select into cohorts at the Opening Retreat; you will be able to choose a cohort that meets at an available time for your schedule.
If I’m expected to teach the Mindful Schools curriculum during the year, but I don’t work in a school - what should I do?
Since one of the main goals of this program is to gain expertise teaching youth, practicing the actual teaching is extremely important. Each month, you will be asked to try something out and report back, and at the end of the program, you will be asked to share video footage of your work with youth so that you can get feedback from your colleagues.
In the past, participants who don’t work in a classroom or school setting have done one of a few things:
- Volunteered in a school, offering the program at no charge as part of their training in exchange for the opportunity to work with a group of youth and gain experience.
- Taught to a group of students that they know outside of school--usually family members, friends, or neighbors.
It is less important who the kids are, so long as you have a group that you’re genuinely able to work with to deepen your teaching experience.
What courses or training are required prior to enrolling in this program?
There are two prerequisites. We ask that all applicants:
- Have a regular mindfulness practice, cultivated either though our 6-week foundational online course in secular mindfulness (Mindfulness Fundamentals) or another secular mindfulness course like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
- Have completed our 6-week Mindful Educator Essentials course–an introduction to teaching mindfulness to youth.
It is important that participants have completed both of these courses prior to the summer when their MTCP program begins.
Must I have completed the prerequisites in order to apply to the program?
No, you do not need to have completed the prerequisites in order to apply. However, all prerequisites must be completed by May 2020, prior to the start of the Mindful Teacher program.
If you have not completed your prerequisites prior to applying, please list your anticipated date of completion of the course(s) you have not yet completed.
What if I have taken other mindfulness courses or have a longstanding meditation practice?
We do accept equivalent introductory mindfulness courses, such as MBSR or MAPS, for our prerequisite in personal practice (Mindfulness Fundamentals). Those with an established personal practice and other course experience can qualify by providing information about their personal practice in the application.
We cannot, however, waive the Mindful Educator Essentials course prerequisite in lieu of other trainings or practices as we want to ensure that all participants enter the Mindful Teacher Certification Program with a common experience in the Mindful Schools framework, practice, and curricula.
How does the Mindful Teacher Certification Program differ from SWIP and from taking all four of the other Mindful Schools courses?
The goal of the Mindful Teacher Certification program is to support both your deepening personal practice and your deepening practice of teaching mindfulness and teaching mindfully. While the Mindful Teacher Certification Program (MTCP) focuses on supporting your individual development as a Mindful Teacher (with a focus on your development and the teaching of mindfulness in your classroom), while our School-Wide Implementation Program (SWIP) focuses on supporting your development as an expert of School-Wide Implementation (with a focus on developing your capacity to take mindfulness to scale across a school or district or in your specific context).
The Mindful Teacher Certification Program is a significantly deeper dive into the concepts presented in the introductory online offerings, one which looks to integrate the various areas of learning (personal practice and professional teaching practice) presented in the other courses. This course offers an immersive, reflective process, which allows you to integrate your personal mindfulness practice and your teaching practice, all with the supportive and regular feedback of other members of both peers and faculty.
Within the program, we cover various topics that are relevant to the field of mindfulness in education. Some of these topics include: research, data, and evidence; neuroscience and psychology; clinical considerations (mental health, trauma, and specific therapeutic uses like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and the autism spectrum); engaged mindfulness and examining bias.
Our program is divided into monthly modules, and within each of those modules you can expect to see videos and readings for you to review, live calls (that are recorded if you cannot attend live) on both personal practice and on teaching mindfulness, opportunities to both practice the skills in your context and to write reflections about what you are learning, opportunities to connect within message boards with other participants, spaces to connect within Affinity Groups, and a monthly live call with your small cohort of participants.
Do I need to be a professional educator to participate in the Mindful Teacher program?
While it’s helpful to have prior experience teaching youth (and you will be asked to be teaching the Mindful Schools curriculum during the program), you are not required to be an educator. Our program has served a wide array of participants–classroom teachers, school administrators, mental health professionals, outside providers, yoga teachers, parents, and those switching careers.
Will I need to purchase additional materials?
There are no additional materials you need to purchase for the core content of the program. All participants will need to have access to the online classroom/internet access.
We do have an optional book club you are welcome to join during the program, and you would need to obtain a copy of that book - either through purchase or borrow from your local library (as an example) if you choose to participate.
Is everything online, with the exception of the residential retreats?
Yes. Other than the Opening and Closing residential retreats, our learning experience takes place in our online classroom through readings, forums, and videos, as well as live, interactive practice and workshop calls, Guest Speakers, and Cohort calls.
What are the requirements for course completion?
This program has two stages of completion: (1) course completion (finishing the course itself), and (2) certification (becoming certified as a "Mindful Schools Certified Mindfulness Instructor" who is then eligible to be listed in our Certified Instructor Directory).
Course Completion: A participant who achieves course completion may say they are “a graduate of Mindful Schools’ Mindful Teacher Course.”
For course completion, participants must:
- Attend two residential retreats, one at the beginning and one at the end of the program (live attendance is required)
- View all required online content, including instructional videos and webinars (may attend live or view recording)
- Attend all monthly small-group webinar cohort calls (live attendance is required)
- Complete all required readings and written reflection assignments and all online community of practice, small study group, and mentor engagement requirements
- Maintain a daily personal mindfulness practice of 20 minutes
Complete the Teaching Lab requirements: submit a video of themselves teaching to youth (in a classroom or other group setting) for feedback and provide feedback on peer videos to those in the cohort
What are the requirements for "Certification"?
Certification Practicum: A participant who receives teaching certification may say they are “a Mindful Schools Certified Mindfulness Instructor.”
We begin preparing you for the Certification Practicum during the second half of the program with the Teaching Lab portion of the course.
After the course concludes, and participants have earned “Course Completion: participants can submit their Application for Certification Practicum for review. For teaching certification, participants must:
- Meet all requirements for Mindful Teacher course completion (listed above)
- Submit Application for Certification Practicum materials, including teaching video, student and staff evaluations, and personal reflection
- Receive a positive evaluation and written offer of certification from the Teaching Practicum Review Committee
Is completing the course sufficient for certification?
Participants who have achieved successful course completion but have not completed the additional requirements of the "Certification Practicum" will not be listed in Mindful Schools’ Certified Instructor Directory and cannot say they are a Mindful Schools Certified Mindfulness Instructor.
Will I automatically be certified?
Neither participation in the Mindful Teacher program nor submission of practicum materials automatically guarantees certification. Certification is contingent upon a successful evaluation by our Certification Practicum Review Committee. A participant whose Certification Practicum does not yet demonstrate the requisite skills or qualities needed to embody and teach mindfulness to youth at an expert level may be asked to gain further experience and resubmit at a later time.
What does this program qualify me to do/not do?
At the end of this program, you will be qualified to:
Certification will allow you to refer to yourself as a Mindful Schools Certified Mindfulness Instructor (CMI), and guide basic mindfulness and compassion practices with youth and adults in a school or the context of your chosen field of work. Specifically, as a Mindful Schools CMI, you ARE qualified to:
- Lead professional development sessions related to the field of mindfulness in education, the benefits of teaching mindfulness to youth, and the benefits of youth caregivers having a personal mindfulness practice.
- Teach adults how to practice mindfulness by offering introductory and beginner-level mindfulness classes. You can also offer mindfulness practice to groups of teachers, administrators, parents, or other interested adults in the school community or institution.
- Use the Mindful Schools curriculum to create and adapt a mindfulness program to the needs of a specific school setting or content area (e.g. ongoing classroom instruction, science, health, PE, philosophy, supporting sports teams, etc.) and incorporate mindfulness instruction into other types of instruction or classroom routines (e.g. test-taking, counseling, circle time, advisory/homeroom, etc.).
At the end of this program, you will not be qualified to:
- Teach or certify other teachers to teach mindfulness
- Represent yourself as an employee of Mindful Schools or teach Mindful Schools courses (e.g. Mindfulness Fundamentals, Mindful Educator Essentials)
- Offer advanced personal practice support or multi-day/residential practice-intensive retreats for adults
- Provide mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions (e.g. mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, trauma therapy, etc.)
How are graduate credits granted for the course and/or program? How many graduate level credits are available for completing the course?
You can receive Graduate Level Credits through the University of the Pacific’s crediting entity, Courses 4 Teachers. You can register for up to 15 units/credits for the year. You can learn more about that process here.
Do you have any resources for asking my school/administrator/district to help support my participation/pay for my tuition?
Yes! We have both a brochure on the Mindful Teacher Certification Program (first listed below), as well as a pdf entitled “Why Your School or District Should Invest In a Mindful Teacher”.
Can I complete the course without attending the Retreats?
No. Full and Complete attendance at both the Opening and Closing Retreats is a required and critical component of this program.You will not be able to participate in the Mindful Teacher cohort if you are not able to fully attend the Opening Retreat and will not be considered a Graduate of the program if you are not able to fully attend the Closing Retreat.
You do need to attend the same retreat venue for both your Opening and Closing retreats, as your cohort participants will all be at those same retreats with you, and you will not want to miss out on the reunion with your cohort after a year of supporting each other and watching each other grow.