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Slow Teaching, Deep Learning:

Creating Contemplative Communities
How can we apply the principles of mindfulness to teach and learn more effectively? This series for members of the Columbia teaching community seeks to develop reflective communities of inquiry through contemplative practice. In each session, participants will engage with emerging research regarding the benefits of mindfulness in and outside of the classroom, and be guided through exercises they can potentially apply to their personal and pedagogical practices.

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“I attended Slow Teaching, Deep Learning to expand my pedagogy as a teacher-educator, as well as to extend my own personal contemplative practices. The sessions offered a wonderful balance of theoretical framing and modeling of techniques, and gave me the confidence to immediately try out particular strategies.”

Shira Epstein

Assistant Professor of Jewish Education, JTS

Read more about Shira's experience

I attended Slow Teaching, Deep Learning to expand my pedagogy as a teacher-educator, as well as to extend my own personal contemplative practices. The sessions offered a wonderful balance of theoretical framing and modeling of techniques, and gave me the confidence to immediately try out particular strategies. For example, I asked teachers-in-training participating in my year-long pedagogy practicum to try out a contemplative practice technique in their disparate settings, and to participate in an online discussion in which they considered the benefits and challenges of “slow teaching”. In addition, I was inspired to begin one seminar session with a “Beholding” technique: students were asked to gaze at a Norman Rockwell image of classroom teaching as I repeated the phrases that had been modeled for us in the training, “What do you see?” “What else do you see?” The debrief led to a textured discussion on the images of teachers in pop culture and the importance of seeing what we don’t normally take time to see – both as educators and as learners.

“Everything about teaching today seems to be about efficiency, about speeding up and not about slowing down. I was drawn to the Slow Teaching, Deep Learning program because of its focus on reflection and somatic experience…Most learning is reinforced when there is a physical component, and the skills I took away from the Slow Teaching, Deep Learning workshop will enrich my teaching.”

Lauren Taylor

Lecturer, School of Social Work

Read more about Lauren's experience

Everything about teaching today seems to be about efficiency, about speeding up and not about slowing down. I was drawn to the Slow Teaching, Deep Learning program because of its focus on reflection and somatic experience.  In my interrelated fields of geriatric social work and oral history, there has been a move towards examining intersubjectivity, and this requires an understanding of somatic experience, as body language is an important element of this dynamic. The work takes place in the meeting space between individuals, and is an act of co-construction.

In the workshop on using somatic experience in teaching, we explored a menu of possibilities for using movement as a teaching tool. Whether sitting and mindfully observing what is going on in the classroom, or moving as a group, arms interlocked, figuratively transforming ourselves from a solid into a liquid, the exercises evoked numerous ways in which this modality can be adapted to any field.  

I often use role plays in both my clinical and oral history instruction, and somatic movement can be used to enhance the effectiveness of this modality. Students could use gestures or movements, in addition to simply speaking their roles, to express what they are trying to convey.  Most learning is reinforced when there is a physical component, and the skills I took away from the Slow Teaching, Deep Learning workshop will enrich my teaching.

“Sometimes it seems the easiest route between what needs to be taught and the student is the slide deck…Slow Teaching, Deep Learning, however, provided a forum to step back from technology and reconsider what it means to create an authentic learning environment. The series was an ocean of ideas derived from content as well as conversations with like-minded instructors….Through the workshops, I learned that evidence indeed suggests quiet contemplation can enhance learning.”

Diane Rubino

Course Associate in the Applied Analytics MS Program

Who

These workshops are open to Columbia faculty, students, and staff. No prior knowledge of contemplative pedagogy is required.

Program Description

Contemplative Reading
How can contemplative reading support learning as a participatory experience? How might the intentional integration of silence and reflection make reading aloud in class more meaningful? In this session, we will consider the ways in which contemplative reading can bring greater understanding and connection to the words of a text.

Contemplative Writing
How can we engage with writing in ways that enhance contemplation in the classroom? What is the value of different modes of contemplative writing? In this session, we will explore contemplative writing as a practice that helps foster inquiry and enhances learning as a process.

Movement Practices
How can we engage somatic awareness and centering through movement practices? In this session, we will explore a variety of techniques for developing presence and somatic awareness through the use of labyrinths, walking meditation, and yoga. We will consider how these movement practices can influence and inform teaching and learning in your classroom.

Related Programs and Services

If you are unable to attend our sessions in the spring, we hope to see you at Slow Teaching in Fall 2017.
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Resources

Mindfulness & Meditation. October 2016.
Beholding. November 2016. 
Deep Listening. December 2016.
Contemplative Reading. February 2017.
Contemplative Writing. March 2017.
Movement Practices. April 2017.

Photo of Tree of Contemplate Practices

Contact

For more information about this series, please contact CTL Senior Learning Designer Kenny Hirschmann (kah2197@columbia.edu).

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