OID: E10040387
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Natural Born Teachers Erasmus+ project. Making the point

The Natural Born Teachers project is navigating the last phase of its rich path, dedicated to improving effectiveness and wellbeing in teaching and learning through the innovative and powerful connection among MINDFULNESS, EMOTIONAL COMPETENCES, OUTDOOR/ NATURE-BASED LEARNING and EDUCATION TO WELLBEING. 

This Erasmus Plu project in the School Education field included a total of 3 training mobilities for the international teachers involved, each one organised in one of the partner countries, in parallel with 6 online follow-up meetings, fundamental to accompany the teachers during their learning path and to facilitate the creation of trusting and supportive bonds among the participants. At the same time, innovative lesson plans were created by the teachers as a result of the exchange of good practices among countries, the experiences gained and the gradual increase in skills on the project topics. These lesson plans will be collected in a Toolkit that will be published on the project webpage, hosted on JUMP website, and the Erasmus Projects Results Platform, disseminated to international teachers and educators as an Open Educational Resource, through the channels of the partner organisations.

The fruitful dissemination of the results was carried out, in addition to the online channels, through the events held at the premises of each partner school, and with the important Online international conferences held on 29 May and 6 June 2024. 

The Online International conferences were a precious opportunity to share with all the School Education community the results, findings and tools and methodologies developed during this innovative Erasmus+ project, thanks to the fruitful cooperation between the leader JUMP Association (Soverato – Italy) and the partners schools Agrupamento de Escolas Elias Garcia (Sobreda – Portugal), Tallinn Männi kindergarten (Tallinn – Estonia), together with the Italian local school involved by JUMP Association,  Istituto Comprensivo “M. Squillace – Montepaone” (Montepaone – Italy). 

What resulted from the exchange among the teams is that the cooperation among partners and the series of planned activities allowed to reach the objectives of this project, that were set according to the needs of the organizations involved in the partnership. The results, according to all teachers and team leaders involved, are very positive, and what worked more are the efforts to improve teachers’ general well-being, motivation and ability to face educational, societal and environmental challenges; teachers feel more mindful, aware and skilled to inspire and transmit their experience to their students, through innovative approaches. A great focus was on training, empowering, motivating and inspiring teachers going back to the essence of education through an holistic process, exploring the potential of integrated educational approaches that can better address the needs of teachers and students facing this period characterized by many existential threats, including environmental crisis and climate change. In a society in which youth are confronted with the trauma of growing in a world where the future is deeply uncertain, and often fall into digital devices addiction, youth isolation, bullying, anxiety, lack of hope in the future, this project supported teachers’ awareness and competences to be able to build more resilient and inclusive learning environments, at the same time preventing teachers’ burnout and fostering their motivation, diffusing approaches and activities that benefit from a  mindful connection with the self, others, the community and nature. 

During the Natural Born Teachers project we explored the synergy among Mindfulness (which is a popular topic these days), emotional competences and nature-based learning with a variety of approaches and experimentations. Essentially, Mindfulness involves paying careful attention to our bodies, thoughts, and surroundings. Through this project, we learned that mindfulness can provide children with effective techniques to be more present, focused, to be more aware of themself and of their environment around, to calm themselves when their emotions feel overwhelming, to creat deep bonds with their peers, based on trustful emotional connections. It can also be a simple yet powerful tool to quiet the mind and manage stress, and interestingly, kids often excel at it even more than adults!

Mindfulness is especially beneficial for children who struggle with maintaining attention. It helps them gain better control over their feelings and thoughts. One key aspect we discovered is that mindfulness can facilitate a powerful connection with nature, bringing enriching healthy benefits for the body, the mind, our emotions and our spirit. Additionally, it can prevent meltdowns, reduce conflicts and allow a favorable path to connect with inner peace, and create peaceful and empowering school environments.

We could prove that introducing mindfulness skills to children is beneficial for them but also makes things easier for their teachers, especially as kids grow older. It transforms behavioral issues into learning opportunities. For instance, teachers can ask reflective questions to increase students’ awareness, such as “What emotion is present in you in this moment? What do you feel in your body? How does sadness manifest in you? And anger or joy?”. They can also encourage kids to pause and take deep breaths. Having a shared mindfulness vocabulary between students and teachers allows them to use these skills to cope with stressful situations effectively.

One of the aim of mindfulness that we could experience during this project is to teach children and teenagers to become aware of their emotions and learn how to better regulate them. This project has shown us that mindfulness can be a valuable addition to our daily routines, both for adults and for children, fostering a calmer and more focused school environment, dedicated to take care of the wellbeing of each person, based on their specific needs, and creating the conditions that allow each one to flourish and share their unique essence and talents in the school community, and beyond.

Mindful teachers, for Mindful students.

Author: Alessia Simonetti, JUMP Team