Mindfulness: the ability to be aware of one’s own present thoughts and feelings. It’s a trending topic that is often easily understood but quite difficult to practice.
At Lavelle Prep, in order for students to put mindfulness into action, Principal Chris Zilinski and Assistant Principal Kristina Mazza created the 7-Step Walk — a pathway for students to navigate by foot, designed to be an interactive coping strategy for students that are feeling dysregulated.
The walk uses the language and strategies from DBT STEPS-A, a social-emotional learning curriculum that is implemented in all ICS schools.
According to ICS Wellness coach Crystal Rios, “We have created a guided 7 step-by-step walk that students take in the hallway when they are struggling to manage their emotions/behaviors in class. The 7 Steps include students engaging in mindfulness activities, identifying their current emotions and urges, self-reflecting and taking action steps to shift their emotions, tolerate their urges and return to class re-regulated and with a more positive mindset.
How does it work?
Struggling students follow the boldly numbered path laid out throughout the halls of Lavelle Prep; each of which has a unique and effective method or prompt to encourage relaxation and focus.
Students pause at each red hexagon along their path to mindfulness.
Step 1: Mindful Breathing – Place your hand on your stomach and focus on tracking your breath as it moves through your body.
Step 2: Identify Sensations and Urges – What physical sensations are happening inside and outside of my body?
Step 3: Identify Emotion – What Emotion am I currently feeling that I want to change?
Step 4: Leaf Breathing – Breathing exercise while tracing a leaf.
Step 5: Identify the Event – What is the event prompting my emotion?
Step 6: Check the facts – Ask yourself if your thoughts and feelings are true and accurate?
Step 7: Reframe your thoughts and beliefs – Learning how to think differently about the events.
Hundreds of students have now taken the walk towards self-control and what we call a “wise” state of mind.t
Assistant Principal Mazza was surprised to see that most of the students began to ask for the walk themselves, recognizing a need for a break or a chance to walk away from a heated situation, rather than being asked by a teacher.
By utilizing the guided 7-Step Walk and the lessons from their Wellness classes, students are able to fine-tune their problem-solving skills, communications skills as well as able to develop a strong sense of self.
Practicing mindfulness can lead to reduced levels of stress, and improved memory function and cognition — all of which help the students of Lavelle self-regulate in order to navigate a more mindful tomorrow!