About & Contact

Catharine Hannay
Contact Information

I always welcome reader comments and suggestions.  
If you have a product or organization to promote, a book you'd like me to review, or you're interested in doing a guest post, please see the frequently-asked questions before contacting me.  (FYI, I've shifted to posting every other week to free up some time for other commitments, and I'm frequently contacted about book reviews, interviews, and guest posts; as of May 2017, I'm scheduling posts nearly a year in advance.)

You can reach me at: mindfulteachers[at]gmail[dot]com

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About Me: Catharine Hannay

Here at MindfulTeachers.org, I write about my own experiences with mindfulness and complementary practices like compassion and gratitude, and I coordinate content from experienced mindfulness teachers and teacher trainers. 

For about twenty years I worked in adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), which I sometimes compare to teaching kindergarten and graduate school simultaneously.  It's not uncommon to have some students who are barely literate in their first language and others with advanced degrees from their home country--certainly in the same semester, occasionally even in the same class.

ESOL was the perfect field for someone like me with a wide variety of interests: history, art, music, literature, psychology... You name it, I've probably taught it, at least for a lesson or two.

I became interested in mindfulness as a way of dealing with pressures at work and during a family crisis.  I noticed that the more I could stay calm and focused on the present moment, the better I could cope with whatever was going wrong... and the better I could appreciate all the things that were going right.

This also helped shift the atmosphere in my classes, and I began trying mindfulness techniques with my students (without necessarily labeling them as such).  For example, "It seems like everyone's getting stressed about tomorrow's quiz.  Let's all take a deep breath, then review what you need to study." Mindful or Mindless?THINK Before You Speak and The Sound of GratitudeThe Sound of Compassion, etc., are adapted from activities I've done with my ESOL students.  



So, who are 'Mindful Teachers'?

We all are, or have the potential to be, whether or not we work as teachers. We can all share our knowledge and wisdom, and we can all be positive role models for each other through our actions and attitudes.

It's important to provide the highest quality education possible, but it's equally important to share our love of learning and to see each student as an individual with unique challenges and strengths. This is essential in an educational system that's increasingly focused on standardization and statistical measures of success. 



Teachers and students all over the world face similar challenges, and the same basic mindfulness practices can benefit people of any age and any culture.  Readers of this site are practicing and teaching mindfulness in:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Wales, and Zambia.    
(If your country isn't mentioned, please let me know so I can add you to the list.)




Does this mean I should start meditating with my students?

Not necessarily.  In fact, I strongly caution against it unless you meditate yourself and have been trained to lead meditation sessions with the age group you teach.  

I've had the privilege of interviewing many experts on teaching mindfulness, who've generously shared their suggestions: one lesson that comes up again and again is to start practicing mindfulness ourselves before teaching it to others.

The Activities page has a lot of suggestions for values-based teaching and informal mindfulness practices like noticing the five senses.  There are also formal mindfulness practices such as body scan and breathing meditation, which you might want to try in your personal practice (or use in teaching if you have more experience).



I'm so busy already!  How can I find the time for mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be practiced in the midst of your usual schedule.  You may find that you actually have more time and energy to get things done, because it helps you let go of anxiety and focus on what's truly important. 

You might want to start with the Self-Care Page, How Mindful am I?, or What's the Best Mindfulness Practice for Me?


Wherever you are in your practice, welcome to the growing community of people from around the world who are interested in Living, Learning, and Teaching with Mindful Awareness.  


15 comments:

  1. Really interesting Catharine. I too am an ESOL teacher but in Scotland. I am also a Mindfulness practitioner and have completed several courses. My ESOL students are adults and like you I do some practice with them before assessments.
    my college also has links with secondary schools and I have just completed an eight week course with mainly Polish teenagers. it has been a real roller coaster but I got them to complete a computer survey at the end and the results and comments were amazing e g "Instead of slamming doors when I get angry, I can now focus on my breath".
    I would welcome any suggestions you may have for keeping teenagers engaged. George

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    1. Thanks for your comment, George. It sounds like you're having a wonderful impact on your students!

      Here are a few resources you might find useful:

      This coming Sunday (1/22) I’ll be posting a review of What Works with Teens, which helps teachers, coaches, and counselors to see things from adolescents’ point of view and develop positive relationships with them.

      I also recommend The Mindful Teen, which has adolescent-friendly versions of all the classic mindfulness practices:
      http://www.mindfulteachers.org/2015/10/the-mindful-teen-recommended-book.html

      And there's some great advice on teaching mindfulness to teenagers in the interviews with experienced mindfulness teachers:
      http://www.mindfulteachers.org/p/interviews.html#Adolescents

      In terms of ESOL materials, the film Roman Holiday has always been a big hit with my students, as well as the Connect with English series. I usually show a clip and then have students work in pairs to write a summary, which helps them to practice a lot of different skills at once. https://learner.org/series/cwe/section1/index.html

      My students also really like the “listening/speaking journal,” and I'm working on a mindfulness version. If those sound useful, I'd be happy to send them to you. (You can email me at mindfulteachers[at]gmail[dot]com).

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  2. Thanks Catharine a lot of really useful information. I have also ordered the book Mindfulness for Teen anxiety. My next group in the school is going to comprise young adolescents who pastoral care feel would benefit from mindfulness. A lot of this is new to me. George

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  3. Best of luck with your new group, George--sounds like a challenge but well worth it. (By the way, I got your email and will send you the materials as soon as I'm back on my home computer.)

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  4. This is a fantastic resource you have here Catherine with a lot of hard work and effort put in to it. Please add your listing on our site at www.healthhappinesswisdom.com. You would be a very worthy addition.

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  5. Apologies Catharine for the typo error in your name above. I got it right this time. Stephanie

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  6. Hi Catherine, I have experience teaching mindfulness to Seniors and others. Responding to your request.

    Kevin P Merrigan

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    1. That's wonderful, Kevin! Can you email me at mindfulteachers[at]gmail[dot]com?

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  7. Hi all.... if you have children or work with children, I produced a children's CD called "Calming Young Minds" which is filled with 7 tracks of self-directed yoga, relaxation, and creative activities. The goal of the CD is to make relaxation FUN and playful, allow for kids to use the CD independently, and to help ease their anxieties. You may purchase the CD at www.CalmingYoungMinds.com
    thanks to all on this journey.
    namaste
    Sherri

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    1. Hi Sherri, this seems like a nice program. For anyone interested, there's a sample track on the website with a calming practice followed by an art activity, which should give you a good idea of the types of activities on the CD.

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  8. I am really happy that I found your website. I am a mother, elementary school teacher, and a doula in training. Your site is so user friendly and I love that it does not have any advertisements. Will be ordering some of your recommended books and trying out some simple activities with my first graders soon!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Anne Kathryn. I hope you like the books!

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