Demonstrate SEL through breathing techniques to teach students brain-based coping strategies while also aligning to NGSS
Have you noticed your students struggling with self-regulating their emotions?
So did we.
A couple years ago, Elva De Baca, Lead SciPhy Teacher for San Ysidro School District, and her SciPhy teachers observed students that faced difficult situations and reacted with anger even before the pandemic. They suspected that many of their students lacked the coping skills to control their emotions and thrive in today’s world.
“Mindfulness can help you in many ways when you are feeling some bad emotions.”4th Grade Student, San Ysidro SciPhy
As science educators, Elva and I came together through shared tenacity to advocate for student and teacher mental wellness. Despite our shared love and affinity for teaching STEM hard-skills, we both independently realized no amount of learning would matter unless our students and teachers developed resilience, or the ability to self-regulate one’s emotions while facing adversity.
Brain-Based Instruction in Elementary and High School Science Classrooms
Even as a high school teacher, I recognized my students’ need for instruction in coping skills to help them develop an invisible toolbox of resiliency resources they could use today and tomorrow. In response, I started a Yoga Club to introduce our students to breathing techniques, mindfulness, and strategies for relaxation, reflection, and redirecting their attention.
“The meditation that I learned through yoga club allowed me to become more self-aware, which opened my eyes to new perspectives on my stress and how I can manage it and become a more relaxed, patient version of myself!”Alexa, Thomas Jefferson University Health Science 2021, MS Community and Trauma Psychology 2023
Coincidentally, on opposite coasts of the United States, an elementary teacher in California and a high school in New Jersey both chose to integrate social-emotional soft-skills into their hard-skill science curricula because they felt that was what their students needed. Both Ms. De Baca and Ms. Sarnese were pleasantly surprised to find their students even started practicing their new coping skills on their own!
“With such a busy schedule as a student athlete I find that meditating before bed when I know I won’t get a lot of sleep /quality sleep helps to make me feel well rested in the morning.”Kelsey A., Stockton University Biology, 2022
Resiliency Resource Toolbox for Students
For instance, students were found practicing breathing techniques before a big test. In some cases, students will raise their hand and ask for a brain break mid-lesson when they need processing time. Little kindergarteners will advocate for a break to do Bubble Breath for themselves and their classmates. High schoolers would ask for a guided meditation when they felt overwhelmed during a dense biology lesson.
“A time when you might need a mindfulness break is probably during a big test.”4th Grade Student, San Ysidro SciPhy
Today, as we innovate and trailblaze forward to Reimagine School, Elva and I want to share our successes with other educational leaders throughout California, New Jersey, and the whole US.
Networking Session “Brain-Based Breathing to Teach Science & Resilience”
Join Elva De Baca and me, Jaclyn Sarnese, for our Networking Session this Thursday, at the 2021 BIOCOM Life Science XP Education Symposium, “Brain-Based Breathing to Teach Science & Resilience.” We will demonstrate SEL through breathing techniques to teach students brain-based coping strategies while also aligning to NGSS (LS1.D Sensory Processing).
Virtual Conference: BIOCOM 2021 Life Science XP Education Symposium
Our Networking Session: “Brain-Based Breathing to Teach Science & Resilience”
Virtual Networking Session Time: 4:40-5:15 pm PDT / 7:40-8:15 pm EDT
Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS): LS1.D: Information Processing: Different sense receptors are specialized for particular kinds of information, which may then be processed by an animal’s brain. Animals are able to use their perceptions and memories to guide their actions.
As a participant, you will get to see Elva share examples of how San Ysidro SciPhy teachers link breathing techniques and mindfulness to SEL and NGSS via interactive lessons. She will show examples of student work, teacher prompts, and evaluations. Their data supports that students learn how breathing and coping techniques impact the brain, healthy coping strategies, and decision-making. 91.5% of San Ysidro 4th grade students said they will try mindfulness again.
“What mindfulness means to me is being able to concentrate, being more calm, and being able to focus more without any stress.”4th Grade Student, San Ysidro SciPhy
How are Mindfulness and Breathing Techniques Brain-Based?
In terms of data, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of evidence-based support for soft-skill instruction such as mindfulness, breathing, resilience, and social emotional learning (SEL). Brain activity can be recorded with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans before and after SEL interventions, as is demonstrated in Gaelle Desbordes’ research on the effects that mindfulness training has on the brain.
As educators Reimagine School and prepare students for an unknown future, we have to empower our students with the skills we know they will need for tomorrow. Sometimes that means we add to the standards.
Now more than ever, it is important to remember that academic standards are benchmark goals, not ultimate destinations. You can aim beyond the benchmark goals!
If you join us for our Networking Session on Thursday 4/29, you will get to see video footage of students as young as five years old talk about the brain’s anatomy, function, and role it plays in their own lives. San Ysidro SciPhy students, my former high school students now in college, and many more children throughout the country are living proof that students can handle high expectations.
“Breathing techniques helped me be able to call people on the phone, which was something so monumental for me, my anxiety was so bad. These tools really impacted my life and in relation, the lives of those around me.”Kaitlyn Scardino, Columbia College Hollywood 2022
Nevertheless, the majority of San Ysidro students identify with underserved backgrounds. In 2020, 74.1% of students qualified as socioeconomically disadvantaged, and 60.3% of students identified as English Learners. Some outdated deficit models and false beliefs still exist deep within the US education system where students of color, English learners, students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and those requiring special education are far more likely to have low expectations and fewer resources from their school.
“That’s the opportunity myth. It means that at every grade level, in every district, for students of every demographic background, school is not honoring their aspirations or setting them up for success… This has a cumulative effect, particularly for the students who receive the very least of what our schools have to offer.”TNTP, The Opportunity Myth
The earlier we empower children with coping skills, the longer they will have access to these resiliency resources in their toolboxes.
“The breathing and meditation techniques I learned during Yoga Club have stuck with me and I continue to practice them to help me relax during a stressful semester.”Kelsey A., Stockton University Biology, 2022
“[Mindfulness] was also such a great tool to learn so young because it is a practice. I felt out of practice with meditation after Junior year of high school, but this past year I picked it up again and the improvements in my life are astounding.”Kaitlyn Scardino, Columbia College Hollywood 2022
elevatEd HEART Model for Resilience in Schools
In fact, we can facilitate Reflection within our students from mindfulness instruction, breathing techniques, and SEL. We can guide our students to develop Tenacity by having high expectations for them and providing them with resources for their hard-skill and soft-skill toolboxes.
Additionally, Growth Mindset is a great way to implement Brain-Based SEL and foster student Reflection & Tenacity. Empower your students with the phenomena that positive beliefs help lead to positive outcomes!
If you’re interested in learning more about Brain-Based Breathing, fostering student resilience, or integrating SEL soft-skills with STEM hard-skills, make sure to join Jaclyn and Elva for our presentation this Thursday, April 29th!
Want to empower your Teachers with Resiliency Resources to elevate student expectations? Connect with Jaclyn from elevatEd Classrooms to empower your teachers and students with both the hard-skills and soft-skills they need for tomorrow.