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Mindful Communication - Intermediate District 287

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Mindful Communication - Intermediate District 287
Mindful Communication
* Listen & Communicate Mindfully * Have Greater Impact
Initially created as part of the
Social Emotional Learning Summer Project 2009
Adapted October 2011
I've learned that people
will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou
As we become more
mindful communicators
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we increase productive learning time for our
students and quality engagement with our
colleagues.
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we grow in awareness and knowledge that we are
powerful models for our students and each other.
Mindful Communication
Becoming knowledgeable, intentional
and skillful in our communication with
students and staff as we support, teach,
empower and encourage others.
As we grow our capacity in
Mindful Communication we . . .
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increase our understanding of how our daily communication
impacts others
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become more intentional and mindful in our use of language as
an effective and powerful instructional tool in the various
contexts of the school day.
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realize that our communication in the classroom, hallways,
cafeteria, gym, van, and student work sites is an ongoing
opportunity to have significant impact.
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embrace the charge that we are models for our students and
each other for how to respectfully and productively use verbal
and nonverbal behaviors to navigate a variety of life situations.
What is Mindfulness?
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Mindfulness is paying attention here and now
with kindness and curiosity.
Mindfulness reconnects us to our five senses,
bringing us into a moment to moment
awareness of ourselves and surroundings.
Research shows that mindfulness increases
attention skills, reduces anxiety, and improves
emotional regulation.
In essence, mindfulness is about wakefulness.
Our minds are such that we are often more
asleep than awake to the unique beauty and
possibilities of each present moment as it
unfolds . . .When you cultivate mindfulness in
your life, your ability to be fully present can
come through even under the most trying of
circumstances.
Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness or Mindlessness
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In any given moment we can be mindful
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When we are practicing mindfulness, we tend to
take more responsibility for how we interact with
the world inwardly and outwardly
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Mindfulness is a way of being – it is an intentional
practice - not a technique
Research over the past few decades has
found that mindfulness practice develops:
- attention and concentration,
- social-emotional awareness,
- body awareness and coordination,
- interpersonal skills.
As such, mindfulness is a foundation for education;
mindfulness provides the optimal conditions for
learning and teaching and also supports all
pedagogical approaches.
Mindfulness practices help staff and students
focus and pay attention. A few minutes of
mindfulness practice can improve the learning
environment. Many teachers report that on the
days when they practice mindfulness, everyone
is calmer and the class accomplishes more than
on days when mindfulness is not practiced.[
Research
Documented Benefits of Mindfulness

Increased emotional regulation
social skills
ability to orient attention
working memory and planning and organization
self esteem
sense of calmness, relaxation, and self acceptance.
quality of sleep
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Decreased anxiety
hyperactivity and impulsivity
negative affect/ emotions
anxiety
depression
anger management problems
Mindful Communication
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Enhances speaking and listening to others in a way that
improves clarity and mutual understanding.
Increases ability to understand feelings, needs and requests
that are not always clearly expressed in communications.
More fully developed ability to translate criticism, judgment,
blame and other hard-to-hear messages into feelings and
needs.
Deepens empathic attitude and mutual respect.
Improves ability to transform anger - one’s own and others
safely and respectfully.
Reduces resistance and defensiveness with more overall
cooperation.
Who
are
our
Staff ?
Last time we checked with HR . . .
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Ages 20 something to 70 something
Wide array of educational degrees
Diverse cultures
Diverse life experiences
Wide continuum of roles and responsibilities
Majority of 287 staff are paraprofessionals
We are Models 24 / 7
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We are models for respectful and effective communication
in each and every interaction throughout each day
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We are models in all our interactions - Staff-to-Student
AND Staff-to-Staff
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Assume our students and co-workers are always watching
and listening to what we say and do

What we model on a consistent basis, students LEARN is
okay to do at school, at work and in the community
Who
are
our
students?
Last time we checked with student services
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Ages served: birth to 21 years old
Diverse cultures
Range of educational history / experiences
Alternative learners
Wide range of disabilities and abilities – many
with multiple disorders and co-occurring mental
health issues
Difficulty learning in regular K-12 settings
Communication
Reviewing The Basics
Speaking (the language I use) is
just one way of communicating
WORDS I say (10%)
HOW I say the
words - tone of
voice, loudness,
pauses (30%)
NON-VERBAL
Communication body language,
facial expression,
background (60%)
Nonverbal Communication
Misreading Nonverbal Communication
Many of our students are poor at using and
“reading” nonverbal communication
- Minimal or less frequent use of gestures / flatter affect
- Lack awareness of their own body language
- Often misread others nonverbals –
i.e they “read” concern or distress as mal-intent
- Err on the side of reading others as being threatening
- Older faces can look like angry faces
The Basic Ingredients of Interaction
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INITIATE AN INTERACTION
Greet, Ask question, Introduce/Talk about a topic
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MAINTAIN AN INTERACTION
Use verbal and non-verbal communication to take turns
sending or receiving information – Use pause time between
turns
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CLOSE AN INTERACTION
End of topic or time together
Switch the topic
Change partners
Interrupted – unexpected end of interaction
Talking Points:
(these could be used one at a time overtime with teams or at program level
working with their educational team members)
How MINDFUL am I?
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TOPICS & TURNS:
Whose topic is it? Staff or student? How does the interactor respond to a studentinitiated topic? Are the number of turns I take in the conversation (verbal and
nonverbal) in balance with the student’s conversational turns? Do I tend to dominate
(take a lot of turns with no chance for response)
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PROXIMITY:
Am I aware of how I position and use my physical body when communicating with
others? Do I try to match student’s physical posture and allow them the space they
need or are comfortable with?
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SINCERITY-BELIEVABILITY-ENTHUSIASM:
Am I truly present to my student partner? Am I genuine and respectful in my
interactions? What is my body language and tone of voice communicating?
Talking Points (cont.)
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PAUSE TIME between turns.
Do I model using pause time? When we attend to our pace in our communication
with others, it allows for increased time for processing and formulation for both
partners. Do I use pause time too much? Too little?
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LANGUAGE LEVEL:
Do I know my student’s language level – what they understand? Am I using
language / vocabulary that matches or is a little above the student’s language
level ? How do I honor their language level to increase their understanding?
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QUESTION ASKING:
How much do I use question –asking in my conversations with students? Do I use
open ended or closed ended? What does each type require of the student? Do I
model an array of conversational strategies? What is most supportive of the
student?
Talking Points (cont.)
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CONVERSATION:
When I communicate with my students do I model a natural conversational style?
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INTENTION / IMPACT:
Do my words and body language match my intent? How clear are my
communications with others? Do I say what I mean and mean what I say?
What impact do I have as a teacher and partner in learning and communicating?
Have I tracked the impact I have on others?
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MODELING:
How and what do I model? In my nonverbal communication, my speech, my use
of language, my social skills? Do I empower student to jointly problem solve, do I
use encouragement? Whenever possible do I promote negotiation / conpromise?
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MATERIALS:
Do I use classroom activities and materials to support MINDFUL communication?
What am I modeling as I engage in conversing with students and staff?
KEY INGREDIENTS THAT CONTRIBUTE
TO QUALITY INTERACTIONS
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I attend to how my body is positioned in relationship to my partner
I check my level of sincerity as I enter into the interaction
I wait until my partner is finished before I take my turn
I allow my partner time to respond
The topic / interaction is meaningful to both of us
I acknowledge or comment on what my partner has said
The topic changes when my partner and I are finished or ask permission to
change the topic
I am honest - saying what I believe to be true
I don’t say more than I need to say
I clarify and revise my message if misunderstood
I ask for clarification if I don’t understand my partner’s communication
I am aware of my nonverbal communication and use it to augment my verbal
communication
I acknowledge and respond to non-verbal as well as verbal messages of my
partner
When we are MINDFUL of these basic
ingredients in our interactions, the possible
outcomes are that you and your partner walk
away from your conversation
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feeling affirmed
having new insight or perspective
gaining new / more information
wanting time to think about what was talked about
having a strong feeling for / about
questioning your thinking / actions
feeling energized / inspired
___________
___________
___________
The How of Communication in 287
Within the educational setting,
communication can best be “taught and caught”
through an infused or integrated approach
1.
2.
3.
Communication skills are specifically targeted, highlighted,
practiced, taught and modeled throughout the day
Intentional integration / infusion of MINDFUL Communication into
classroom practices, activites and curricula – all staff responsible
Creating an environment of safety, respect, encouragement,
empowerment and caring – all staff responsible
Looking Together (Activity):
It’s “Both – And”
MINDFUL Communication and SEL !
Problem Solving / Critical Thinking Skills is an example of
integrating MINDFUL Communication and Social Emotional
Learning
Problem Solving Skills is a standard practice across all our programs
– this is a skill set that all programs in 287 want for their students. So
. . . we use this as an example for all programs who are using
different problem solving models for different types of students while
modeling MINDFUL Communication strategies
This shows the vital hand-in-hand partnership with SEL – it is not
attending to either SEL or MINDFUL Communication – it is
BOTH -AND
ALL Behavior IS Communication
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We communicate for a variety of reasons – we
need to model and pay attention to what our
students are trying to communicate. They are
trying to get their needs met in the most
efficient way they can.
When behavior interferes with a student’s
ability to succeed in school and society – that
is a communication issue.
Behavior is Communication
Some Examples . . .
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To get attention
To attain a desired object / activity
To get more of something
To stop something from happening
To continue or maintain something desirable or of interest
To get out of something that is undesirable
To seek or share information
To initiate an interaction with someone
To avoid perceived failure
Using our various SEL Curriculum / Resources
to give examples of mindful, supportive
communication practices
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Responsive Classroom
Love & Logic
Ross Greene
Nurtured Heart Approach
MIndUp
Paths
School Connect
Character Education
Top Teens
Other
Some Ideas for Integrating
MINDFUL Communication
while helping to create
a Safe, Respectful, Caring and Calm Environment
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Lower your voice volume as students raise theirs
Reduce your verbal communication
Be mindful of your physical posture, the space between you
and your partner, your orientation and your nonverbals
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Create space between your ears and shoulders – check your overall
body language
Calm relaxed facial features
Slow steady breathing
Slow your pace
Stress and Language
BE MINDFUL
Increase in stress leads to decreased access to and understanding
of language. A person’s ability to process verbal communication
or formulate a verbal response significantly decreases when they
are stressed, anxious, nervous, agitated etc.
Be MINDFUL about creating an
Understanding and Supportive Environment
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LET STUDENTS KNOW YOUR CONCERN
“I hear your concern” / “I understand you are upset”
“Let’s talk when things are calm”
WRITE IT DOWN - as you listen to student, take notes – let them
know what you are doing and why
DRAW IT OUT – for some students a picture communicates best –
use simple stick figures and talking and thinking bubbles. A thinking
map might help to organize their thoughts
CHECK IT OUT - Repeat what you heard and ask if you got it right
Communication Breakdowns:
Opportunities for MINDFUL modeling
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We all make mistakes or forget what we were going to say
We all have experienced moments where we did not understand or
were misunderstood
We may not hear clearly
We may use the wrong word or expression
We may become distracted and forget what we wanted to say
Communication Breakdowns are great opportunities for modeling
how to engage in repairing the breakdown
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Stopping and Stating
Clarification Requests
Clarification Strategie
Paraphrasing
Modeling How to Repair a
Communication Breakdown
that we are responsible for
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Gee, I used a stern voice. I’m sorry. I would be more
clear if I said it this way….”
“I’m sorry. I was inappropriate. What I said was not
funny or kind. I need to be more mindful. I don’t want
to hurt people’s feelings.”
“I noticed my eyebrows are together and my mouth is
frowning. That makes me look angry to other people. I
need to relax my face muscles.”
Teaching COMPROMISE Skills
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USE VISUALS
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Compromise Chart or Write it Down
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Visuals aides to support
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Language processing / comprehension
Memory
Attending
Future compromise opportunities
Let’s Compromise
Person 1 wants/needs:
Possible Compromises:
Agreement:
Person 2 wants/needs:
Signature and date
Signature and date
Classroom Supports
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Large laminated COMPROMISE CHART
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Can order from Attain Lab
Use Dry Erase Markers
Practice using Compromise Chart when students
are in a calm state
Teach the skill using nonthreatening material
Practice using characters from stories you and /or
student are reading
Classroom Supports Ideas
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CONCERN BOX in room
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“Looks like you have a concern. Thank you for
writing it down and we will discuss it when we can
listen to one another.”
“WAY TO GO” WALL
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Write desirable things each student does around a
classroom or school-wide focus during the day and
celebrate mid-day or at end of day (or 1st thing
next morning)
Classroom Supports
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SCHEDULES
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visually posted
CHANGES to schedule
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visually posted and discussed ahead of time
Classroom Supports
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Visual Directions for Tasks
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Samples of step by step tasks
Bulleted brief instructions
Check list of steps
If Student Cannot Complete Task
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Break it down into smaller steps
Figure out what part of task is presenting the
problem and fix it
Model how to do the task
Classroom Supports
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I Need a Break
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Visually post or have available “I need a break” or
“Take a break” cards
Role Play and Practice how to use the cards and
how to Take a Break when students are calm
Model using the break cards and Model taking
breaks when you (staff) need it
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Talk through your “break” process so they can hear
your thoughts as you use this strategy
Communicative Intent
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The true meaning or message
May be the real message “behind the words”
Nonverbals may convey the real message
Tone of voice may be convey the real message
WE NEED TO MINDFULLY
LISTEN and WATCH
Responding to
Communicative Intent
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Respond to their communicative intent (underlying reason)
Listen past the words
What need or idea is the student communicating?
Let them know you hear them
Ask for clarification if you are unsure / confused
Acknowledge them
Try to meet the need / explore their idea
Later, talk about the interaction
Help them come to productive (respectful, effective and
efficient) ways they can increase their success in
communicating
“What Can I Do?”
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Talk about what TO do
Deliver plenty of positives to students who are engaged and
on-track
Practice the Art of Recognition and Encouragement – give
student specific feedback about what they are doing or what
worked – make your feedback natural – clearly and calmly
embed your comment and move on with the interaction / the
lesson / the activity
Agree with students on a word or phrase that you will use to let
them know when they are off-track, inappropriate, etc.
Use more Positive/Encouragement than Negative/Correction
Avoid
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Focusing on the negative or undesirable behaviors
Telling students what not to do and why – and at
length (Avoid sermons as that is giving the situation energy
and the student attention)
Focus on “What TO Do”
Ongoing Monitoring and Positive Attention
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Give students attention when they are engaging in
desirable behaviors – let them know what behavior(s)
are “thumbs up” / appreciated / desired
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Monitor our behavior to ensure that we are spending
more time using positive descriptive language and
less time correcting undesirable behavior or using
nonspecific praise or M&M’s
The Top 10 Guidelines
for Authentic Communications
These guidelines will increase trust and rapport and foster quality
relationships. By practicing them, you will be a safe place for others while
increasing your ability to define, know and enjoy yourself.
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1. Use I / my statements: 'own' or be responsible for
what you are saying.
Authentic Communications is ME telling YOU about ME.
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2. To communicate effectively, speak personally and
specifically rather than generally and abstractly
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3. No mind reading.
A 'You' statement is a way of analyzing or second guessing, and this also can
cause misunderstandings or defensiveness. Allow others to be responsible for
themselves by encouraging self reflection and a collaboartive approach
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4. Listen to your inner voice. Become aware of
when you are moved to speak and when you are
not moved to speak.
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5. Listen carefully and with respect to what
another person is telling you.
Do not formulate your response while someone is speaking, but wait until
the other has finished.
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6. Be comfortable with silence in communication.
Reflect on what was just said and check your motivations for what you are
about to say. It may take a few moments. This is a kind of honoring of both
the speaker and yourself.
7. Respect differences.
People can have other ideas, thoughts and feelings. Don't try to convert them
to your way. Celebrate the diversity.
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8. Be aware of your own barriers.
Prejudices, expectations, ideologies, judgments or a need to control are
obstacles to authentic communications.
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9. Look and listen for the heart of a person behind
his/her words. Concentrate on finding the strengths
and gifts.
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10. Be able to laugh at yourself and with others.
Jean Handley
Mindful Communication
Turning Point Partners
MINDFUL Communication
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Individually reflect on what three things you
want to remember and use them to “track”
your mindful communication this year
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Staff come together as a team or program to
share ideas and together draft your own
MINDFUL Communication guidelines
I've learned that people
will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou
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