Mindful Classroom

The mindful classroom benefits everyone. Students are better able to pay attention, control impulses, relieve stress, resolve conflicts, and practice cooperation. Educators learn that Mindfulness helps students focus on learning. They use strategies to “reboot” emotionally when stressed, performing difficult tasks, or confronting conflicts with others. These skills, honed in the classroom and enhanced at home, are valuable for a lifetime.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present, a heightened awareness of ourselves, others, and our surroundings. Through Mindfulness, we teach students to focus on the present moment. The neuroscience of Mindfulness has tracked its effects on the brain, body, and our emotions.
A pioneer in Mindfulness in schools, McLean School has conducted workshops and trainings for educators, parents, and students on the national, regional, and local level. A rapidly growing body of scientific research indicates that mindful practice reduces stress and aids focus and learning. Director of Student and Community Wellness, Frankie Engelking, and Mindfulness Coordinator, Rosie Waugh, offer techniques for learning the practice of Mindfulness (breathing, body and emotional awareness, empathy, heartfulness, gratitude, listening and communication), they review the neuroscience and describe the benefits.
McLean’s Mindfulness Program has been featured in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Bethesda MagazineNBC4Science News for Students, and Mindful Magazine.

Gratitude Rocks!

There are many ways to practice gratitude with your students. “Gratitude rocks” provide a creative activity to introduce a gratitude lesson in your classroom. You can then have students take out their gratitude rocks daily or periodically to practice gratitude with your kids.

What Is Gratitude?

Get started by talking with students about the idea of being grateful and thankful. What do these things mean, and how does it make you feel?

Reminders – In Rock Form

To provide a reminder of what they are grateful for and the positive, happy way it makes them feel, have your students personalize their own “gratitude” rocks. You can use small rocks that will fit into their desks or even their pockets. Some students may chose to paint them, others may add stickers or cover them with foil. Some may chose to keep them in their natural state.
In addition, you can provide a larger rock for the entire classroom to share and students can decide on a decor that will represent the group.  Place it in an area of the room that is visible and central.
On a weekly basis, or periodically, teachers can point to the classroom rock, or ask students to find their individual gratitude rocks, to recall the gratitude theme, share gratitude, or use as a focal point for their mindful meditation.


The Student Mindfulness Club at McLean worked on decorating other rocks, large and small, to place in a showcase and to share with classrooms who needed them.

Mindful Student Leadership: the Mindfulness Club at McLean School

Three years after embedding mindfulness in classrooms at our school, my co-teacher Heavenly Hicks and I decided to bring more of the fun activities of mindfulness to our students at lunch time, once a week. We advertised for members with a poster asking “Do you want to serve others?”
Attendance was voluntary, and middle-school students are spontaneous, so we needed to be consistent and really creative. There are so many ways to implement mindfulness! We wanted activities to be fun and doable in 20 minutes so we could practice and eat lunch as well.
McLean students show off their “Mindful Monday” sign

Theme 1: Gratitude
Our first meeting theme was Gratitude. We painted “gratitude rocks,” displayed them in a showcase and shared with classrooms. We made glitter jars and offered them to any classroom teacher who wanted one. Serving the school helped club members feel invested, and enthusiasm grew.

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Mindful Magazine

The Future of Education: Mindful Classrooms

Creating a safe place for our kids to learn might begin with creating some space for them to breathe
By: Caren Osten Gerszberg
Recently retired after 30 years as a math teacher, Rosie Waugh continues teaching part time in her role as Mindfulness Coordinator at the McLean School. Last summer, she completed her mindful educator certification, and has been part of a team of McLean School teachers and administrators who have implemented a school-wide mindfulness program. In addition to structured lessons, every six to eight weeks the school features a theme—such as heartfulness, emotions, or listening—and the entire school participates, decorating bulletin boards and posting cards around classrooms.
“It all started about four years ago with one parent who introduced mindfulness to us teachers,” said Waugh, “and it helps having the head of our school so committed.” In her new role, Waugh also runs a mindfulness club and sometimes brings some of the 7th grade boys to speak about mindfulness with the elementary school students, and explain how to use a glitter jar. “Engaging the kids really keeps it vibrant, interesting, and fun,” she said.
“My practice is always evolving, and the kids I work with know that sometimes I need to stop and take a minute for myself,” said Waugh. While it’s a little trickier teaching high school kids, Waugh says they are respectful and know they don’t have to participate but they need to cooperate. “They’ll tell me they know it helps them, on the sports field or remembering lines in a play, and I’m glad they have a skill for when they just want to have a little space.”

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K-12 College Preparatory School Supporting Bright Students’ Individual Strengths and Challenges.

McLean School is an independent, co-educational, K-12 day school serving Maryland, Washington, and Virginia. McLean has for over sixty years been helping students realize their full potential by providing a comprehensive college preparatory program that emphasizes small classes and differentiated instruction. We embrace both traditional learners and ones with mild to moderate learning challenges – dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and challenges related to anxiety and executive functioning. Many of our students excel in some areas while benefiting from support in others.
8224 Lochinver Lane, Potomac, Maryland 20854  301.299.8277  admission@mcleanschool.org