MMA’s whole-school approach to mindfulness highlights the importance of preparing for action through consideration of the school’s capacity to implement mindfulness including its leadership, time, funding, staffing and training.
The research relating to a school’s capacity (readiness or organisational supports) to implement a health promotion program is emerging. While businesses have been reviewing their capacity and organisational supports to maximise profit and efficiencies for many years, school-based researchers have largely focussed on the content of their programs, rather than what the school needs to implement the program effectively. The ability for schools to assess their capacity, or readiness to implement a program is still in its infancy.
The relationship between a school’s capacity and mindfulness is also in its infancy in the scientific literature. However, as the literature continues to cement the effectiveness of mindfulness in schools, researchers are now turning their attention to some of these capacity supports and their importance in facilitating effective implementation in a school to maximise the benefit of mindfulness.
In MMA’s whole-school approach, the work of Gingiss and colleagues is used to define five core school capacity supports including leadership; time; funding; staffing; and training. Gingiss11 defined Leadership in the context of ensuring the Principal’s involvement in the program as well as his or her belief that the approach is important, having a program Leader or ‘Champion’ in the school and ensuring there was a Project Team or Committee who can oversee the approach.
Time is expressed by Gingiss as the provision of time for the Project Team and Classroom teachers to plan, implement and evaluate the approach. Funding refers to the availability of funding to purchase materials, provide professional development and support any new initiatives that may require funding (such as employing a new staff member, changing something in the physical environment etc). Staff refers not only to having the right staff and sufficient numbers of staff but also to the skills and commitment of the staff to the program’s goals.
This also includes their willingness to try the new approach, the perceived compatibility of the program with the school’s goals and culture and the professional preparation they have been given. Finally, training relates to the opportunity for staff to receive sufficient and ongoing training to successfully implement the program.
There are many active factors that comprise a school’s capacity to implement a program, the school’s leadership; the time given to plan and implement the school’s approach; the funding available; staff characteristics; and quality of training appear to be the most important to address.
In the MMA’s whole-school approach, each of these five domains are highlighted in the ‘Preparation’ phase and are described in more detail in this chapter which assists schools in Enhancing School Capacity.
By completing the Self-Assessment Tool, schools will assess their current capacity to implement mindfulness and use this chapter to determine how to enhance their capacity should it be limited.