Tina R., from Pittsburgh, PA is inspiring youths to practice mindfulness in their personal and professional lives. It started as a spark and ignited a passion within her immediate community. We had the chance to talk to Tina about what it was like to create an intention-focused initiative and the impact it had on everyone involved. Read on to find out how Tina, a positive psychology teacher, is making an impact.
In Her own WORDs:
Tell us about about how you became a maker.
I wouldn't even call myself a Maker; my students did all the work, and I just arranged the materials. I first learned of MyIntent at Wisdom 2.0, several years ago. Chris Pan actually tied my bracelet on for me. My WORD was PRESENT.
How did it go from a class project to a school wide project?
For several years now, I teach about the differences between intentions and goals in my Positive Psychology elective and have been sharing the story of the MyIntent Project along the way, often showing an accompanying video clip. When I did this lesson last fall, students in the class said, "I want a bracelet!". I had been thinking of a school wide initiative for a while, so when my students expressed an interest, we had a discussion on how we might propose a school wide campaign to our administration. Fortunately, our school principal supported our efforts.
Can you explain how you have used MyIntent pieces at your school?
We used the MyIntent cards to spark group/class discussions and discussed a great deal about how we set intentions. For this campaign, we created a Google form and shared it with every student and adult in our building.
The impact was far, wide and deep. We knew if we wanted to offer this to the school, we had to provide some context to the student body and the staff. To that end, our students created, starred in, and edited several PSAs for our morning video announcements. At first they explained what an intention was, in another one they shared their words and finally, they shared how individuals could choose and submit their words - how the process would work. I saw several students step up and lead the project, whether it was working on the videos, stamping out the bracelets, or organizing the distribution of bracelets. They stepped up!
How did you see your students grow this process? Did you see a change in the overall school dynamic through this process?
I've overheard many times people asking each other - "What's Your WORD?". This year, teachers and students have begun asking "Are you doing the MyIntent thing again?"
Another example of how it rippled... one of my former students (from the fall) was the president of our fashion club. She spoke to the group, and they decided to have each member choose a word and stamp their own bracelets. They made MyIntent the theme of the show. Each model shared their word, and they raised funds to contribute towards supplies for this year's project.
Some people were skeptical about the WORDs teens would choose. On the online form they used to order the bracelets, they had to share why they chose their WORD. Let me tell you, my students continue to teach and inspire me. I have great faith in our future when I recognize the depth of them as caring human beings.
Share the story behind the current WORD you are wearing.
My necklace is TEACHER/LEARNER, reminding me that it's a cycle. I'm continually learning as I teach.
I wear a MyIntent bracelet that says FIERCE LOVE. At my age, I've chosen to unapologetically embrace my heart as it is and spread the love I can in the world by how I live. I'm a flawed human being, but if I'm lucky to wake up each day, I get to try to spread the love again.
How did you start BCLC conference, and what is it? What do you see as the future of positive psychology in schools?
I have been studying and teaching about emotional intelligence, positive psychology, social emotional learning, and mindfulness for years. I've traveled the country going to conferences, workshops and completing a variety of programs. One such conference was the Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth conference, held each year in San Diego and led by Dr. Amy Saltzman. I thought it would awesome to have something like that on the east coast, specifically in Pittsburgh. I had been sharing my learnings with my district but hoped to share more educators in our region. Last spring I met Gregg Behr, Executive Director of the Grable Foundation, applied for a grant and here we are.The first ever Building Compassionate Learning Communities(BCLC) conference will be held on October, 8, 2018. The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies has come aboard as a sponsor, and we are thrilled to have MyIntent supporting us! Our hope is to collaborate with other educators and communities members to build, grow, and support compassionate and resilient learning communities. We have sixteen different schools districts registered sending teams of teachers and administrators, six different universities are represented and our attendees are coming from three different states so far!
Would you encourage others to become MyIntent Makers? Why?
Without a doubt! We are teaching and raising children in a time and place where there are numerous things vying for their attention and demanding their achievement. I love the spirit of setting an intention. It allows individuals to refocus; often, bringing them back to reflecting our core values. The world will continue to ask more of them, but if they're able to look down at that word, maybe, just maybe it will create a small pause and allow them to recalibrate. This process has the potential to make them reflect and make a better choice for themselves and for others.
What is your favorite part of being a Maker?
Being a conduit, sharing what I've learned, how MyIntent touched my life, and how this process continues to evolve.
**Special Thanks: I've been very fortunate to have the support of an incredible conference team! I couldn't do this without them.
**Credit: Stephanie Confer for photos of students
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