Being Real: Our Newest Teen Mindfulness Program

By Barnaby Willett, Director of Innovation & Partnerships, and Lead Teacher

What if all teens were taught mindfulness in their first year of high school? This year, we're doing just that, piloting new programming in several of our high schools — a mindfulness workshop series for every 9th-grader called Being Real.

9th grade is a challenging transition year for adolescents. Our intention with these workshops is for teens to learn the basics of mindfulness in a fun and engaging way. The goals are to:

  • Provide mindfulness-based social-emotional learning skills to all 9th graders 

  • Increase the accessibility and exposure of mindfulness skills to students school-wide

  • Increase awareness of our mindfulness elective class as a key mental health support

  • Provide 9th-grade teachers basic mindfulness skills and resources

Integrating mindfulness education more deeply within schools is also intended to support career and college readiness, dropout prevention strategies, and greater student engagement and achievement.

The Being Real curriculum is a 4-workshop arc of trauma-informed, equitable, mindfulness education. It’s a relational-based approach that explores mindfulness from the individual, community, liberative and justice-based perspectives.

We're feeling great about the initial rollout and reception of these workshops with 9th graders. We're particularly grateful for the Portland Public School administrators and teachers who have supported this new programming. One administrator shared this week that they've heard great feedback from students, teachers, and parents.

Also a big shout out to the Peace in Schools team members who have collaborated on program creation and facilitation: Archer, Barnaby, Caverly, Janice, Madeline, Maggie, Michael, Sarah, and Sam.