Learning experience goes beyond teaching, looks at mindfulness

Jun 22, 2021 | Education and Human Sciences

Parents, students, and educators in Lafayette Parish were able to participate in a two-week experience to learn about psychological first aid, mindfulness and positive psychology interventions thanks to a collaboration with Lafayette GEAR UP through a U.S. Department of Education federally-funded grant.

Participants utilized both personal and professional applications of positive psychology. The faculty and staff who led the experience reviewed topics such as mindfulness, self-care, utilizing an individual’s strengths, growth mindset, empathy, well-being, grit, and happiness.

“I enjoy being able to help educators access tools and learn skills that will improve their classroom experience,” said Landrum Alexander, project coordinator. “Happy teachers help create happy students. Anything that we can do to help support teachers and empower them is our goal.”

Other faculty and staff from Louisiana Tech who assisted in this effort included Mary Margaret Livingston, Brandon Waits, Julie Shrubb, Erika Jones, and Diane Madden from the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences and the Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC) divisions. Grambling State’s Dr. Coleen Speed also collaborated for the learning experience. Coursera, a digital learning platform utilized by Tech, was accessed by the participants in order to ensure they had opportunities to complete a professional Psychological First Aid credential through the engagement.

Megan Breaux, partnership and data coordinator for Lafayette Parish GEAR UP, said this program would be essential not only for the participants, but for the future children they would engage with and teach.

“As a first-generation college student from a low-income background, I know the importance of the social and emotional learning competencies, mindset, grit and positive psychology as a whole, when it comes to helping students develop a sense of belonging on a college campus,” Breaux said. “This is also one of my major areas of research for my doctoral studies, so I am excited about this initiative on a very personal level.”

Twenty-five educators, four parents, and two graduates signed up to participate over the two-week period.

“Educators are essential to this project because they are instruments of change,” Breaux said. “Our teachers, administrators and counselors will be champions for implementing positive psychology within the school system. Since GEAR UP operates on a sustainability model, we support educators so that they may provide effective support beyond our cohorts.”

“We in the College of Education at Louisiana Tech University are grateful for our partnership with Lafayette Parish GEAR UP that led to this timely initiative,” said Associate Dean Dr. Lindsey Vincent. “We look forward to many more years of service and collaboration with a shared goal of positively impacting the lives of youth and their stakeholders in the Lafayette region.”