Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment. Research has shown that students who participate regularly in mindfulness activities improve their grades, rate themselves as more happy/content, and improve their ability to get along with their peers, teachers and family members.

Therefore, Oregon GEAR UP partnered with Inner Explorer, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide mindfulness in schools. Teachers have access to a series of 5-10 minute audio-guided practices that can be used every day by simply logging in and pressing play.

It started out with some resistance from students, but after a few weeks they began to ask "Are we doing mindfulness today?" -Kristin Veerman, Teacher, La Pine High School

Five GEAR UP schools have used the exercises over 1,400 times in the last year. At Dayton Junior High School, students are finding that it helps to re-center and focus themselves. “I’m the type of person to stress easily, especially over school work. But [Inner Explorer] makes me feel calm,” 7th grader Abby Velazquez explains. “It makes me feel like if I breathe in and out, I’ll be fine.”

Survey results also point to the benefits of mindfulness in the classroom. Of the GEAR UP educators who used mindfulness activities with their students (including Inner Explorer), 90% or more indicated an improvement in students’ focus, concentration, or readiness to learn; ability to manage stress and reduce anxiety; and behavior or emotional regulation.

Impact of Mindfulness

"Mindfulness has been amazing," said Kristin Veerman, a teacher at La Pine High School who has used the Inner Explorer program with her classes. "Using mindfulness has not only helped our students have a moment to focus at the beginning of class, but it helps me to refocus, and really reset my mind for a new class."

Some students love it, others tolerate it, but they all respect that that time is dedicated to mindfulness. One student says it is the best part of his day. -Amber Downing, Teacher, La Pine High School

Another teacher at La Pine High School, Amber Downing, echos the benefits of mindfulness for both students and educators. "This really helps them calm down and focus better. And if nothing else, it helps me center myself for the most challenging period of class during the day, so I am more effective as a teacher."