Mindful Meditation Australia recommends this Whole-School Assessment and Planning stage be completed as the first step in the process of implementing mindfulness in a school.
Taking the time to plan your school’s approach to mindfulness is an important first step. The literature clearly demonstrates that without proper planning, school-based interventions are more likely to fail11, 21, 22. Furthermore, the proper planning required to implement mindfulness has been explored in the recent literature with recommendations being made for the provision of time for the school’s leadership team to prepare staff, parents and the broader school community for the new approach5, 18, 23, 24
Planning for a whole-school approach is more than simply defining when and where students will learn about the health problem. Planning should include a review of what the school currently does in relation to the health problem, assessing this action against recommended good practice, and identifying areas for improvement based on this information8, 21. This approach is used widely in the scientific literature and leads to better health outcomes for children and young people11. It is also recommended by the WA Health Promoting Schools Association8, although there is no standardised tool available to assist schools in this process.
To assist schools to assess their current practice and plan for action, MMA have defined three key Strategies for Action below.
In recent review publications, the need for a leadership team or champion within the school to promote mindfulness and provide support to staff during their implementation is critical5. The Project Team is also a well-established component of the Health Promoting Schools Model as the team members become advocates and drivers for the health issue across the whole-school community8, 21.
This team can comprise any interested members of staff, however MMA recommend the following where possible:
While the Project Team will vary in its composition across each school, the literature clearly articulates the importance of the school Principal’s involvement to protect against implementation failure11. If the Principal is not on the Project Team, he or she should be regularly involved in the Team’s planning and implementation processes to ensure the Principal advocates for the approach. Similarly, the support from a school’s Principal for mindfulness has been noted as central to the success of a school’s approach12, 14. Further, having a Principal who leads ‘mindfully’ and creates trust amongst the staff for the approach is further recommended12.
The Project Team will be asked to lead all planning and implementation associated with the MMA’s whole-school approach to mindfulness and should meet at least once a term, although this may be more often in the early planning stages.
This tool assists the Project Team to collectively reflect on the school’s actions relating to mindfulness across the whole-school, recording areas of good practice, those for improvement and opportunities for new action. This Self-Assessment Tool takes around 30 minutes to complete and is a great starting point for schools.
The Self-Assessment Tool reflects the MMA’s Whole-School Model by posing a series of questions which are derived from the implementation literature (for Preparation) and the Health Promoting Schools literature (for Practice) and represents theoretical and/or practical evidence of good practice.
Project Teams answer each of the questions considering their school’s current activity within each domain of the Preparation and Practice components of the model. The Preparation sections address the school’s capacity relating to leadership; time; funding; staffing; and training and the Practice sections address the Health Promoting School’s domains of teaching and learning; school culture; physical environment; policy and practice; school-home-community links; and school health services. Questions in the Self-Assessment Tool are answered based on the stage of implementation the school is currently at for each including ‘not implemented’, ‘considering implementation’, ‘in planning’, ‘partially implemented’, ‘fully implemented’ and ‘unsure’.
Using the outcomes of the Self-Assessment Tool, MMA’s experienced staff will work with your school to develop a tailored whole-school plan for implementing mindfulness.
The plan will highlight the areas of greatest need for the school and provide an opportunity for the Project Team to create an implementation plan to address each. Once the planning tool has been completed, schools can move to Step 2 of the whole-school approach (Step 2: School Community Awareness Raising). A sample of the whole-school plan is provided below.