The lush greenery and mindful vibes of the scenic Ripton, VT welcomed educators from around the US, Canada and Mexico as they arrived at the Mountain Campus for the fifth annual June Forum. This year, the Social Entrepreneurship Program welcomed educators from over 25 different institutions of higher learning, as well as a number of other organizations and schools.
Over the course of four days, attendees took part in a variety of meditation and yoga sessions, lectures and workshops, all the while engaging in discussion and meaningful reflections with colleagues at peer institutions and organizations. The themes of this year’s June forum, “Mindfulness, Inclusivity, and Best Practices” could not be more timely as we work hard to bring a more satisfying, inclusive educational experience to our curriculum, classrooms and work environment.
To access the detailed program agenda for this year’s June Forum, click here.
Elizabeth Robinson, Associate Dean of the College for Creativity, Engagement and Careers, kicked off the Forum on the evening of June 11, 2016. As part of her opening remarks, she started the conversation on the main themes of the forum by posing a few thought-provoking questions: Who am I? What can I offer? What do I hope to gain?
The lead facilitators of the forum, Christal Brown, Assistant Professor of Dance, Jonathan Miller-Lane, Associate Professor of Education Studies, Faculty Head, Wonnacott Commons, and Melissa Hammerle, Visiting Lecturer in Education Studies led an interactive activity, discussing the attendees answers to the questions asked earlier in the opening remarks and setting concrete learning outcomes for the rest of the forum.
After an optional meditation, the second day dived deep into the discussion of mindfulness and inclusivity starting with setting personal goals session led my the SE staff. Later in the morning, Christal Brown led an active session with attendees on what is important for us as educators and what we do about it.
Jonathan Miller-Lane brought his rich experience in the field of mindfulness and discussed the ways educators can integrate mindful learning into educational curriculum.
One highlight of the day was a “silent lunch” which challenged the attendees to put aside their daily thoughts and conversations and enjoy a meal with utter silence. Participants shared insightful reflections on this unique experience. As one participant noted “we forget how enriching it can be to forget our busy day and hold a meaningful conversation with our meal, and honestly it is a wonderful experience.”
The schedule for the rest of the day was organized around inclusivity in secondary education, led by Hal Colston, Director at Partnership for Change, The Practice of Being in the Moment that included mindfulness meditation by Melissa Hammerle, walking meditation with Jonathan Miller-Lane, and Yoga with Adeline Cleveland. Jay Parini, Poet, Novelist, Biographer and critic concluded the day with narrating a selection of his poems from his book “New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015”.
Monday was a “practice day” scheduled around forum attendees sharing best practices from their programs and coursework. Melissa Hammerle discussed the ways mindfulness practices can be linked to authentic teaching and learning from her years of experience in the field. Storytelling is proven to be an effective tool in allowing both educators and students to share experiences and reflect on mindful practices around campuses. Sarah-Marie Hopf, Ashoka U Campus Partnerships Manager engaged the attendees on her experience working with Ashoka U campuses and the ways and tools they use to promote storytelling as a practice around both course work and experiential learning programming.
For a full album of photos from this year’s Forum, visit our Facebook page here.
The afternoon sessions and workshops included a discussion on identity and privilege led by Roman Christians, Assistant Director for Student Organizations and Orientation at Middlebury College.
The rest of the afternoon was organized around two rounds of four workshops. Each attendee had the opportunity to attend two workshops:
- Netta Avineri, Assistant Professor and Intercultural Competence Committee Chair led her workshop discussing building meaningful community partnerships using an intercultural approach.
- Darius Graham, Director of Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures led his workshop around the topic of building inclusive programs in social innovation.
- Marilyn Naegley, Director of the Talk About Wellness Initiative discussed how mindful practices can deepen the meaning of inclusion.
- Shashi Neerukonda, Ecosystem Lead at the Wellbeing Project discussed how to avoid burnout among social change leaders.
Right before dinner and live music by Iron Eyes Cody, Middlebury College President Laurie Patton thanked the organizers and attendees of the forum and shared her thoughts and experiences on the themes of the June Forum.
Tuesday was a “moving forward” day. Jonathan Miller-Lane started the day with an invigorating meditation in the open. The attendees were organized into a large circle and using mediation and imagination, went on a journey to self-reflection, introspection and gratitude. The Forum was concluded with curation of ideas from attendees and how they could apply them into their daily lives and work.
The SE team would like to extend a whole-hearted thank you to all of our participants, speakers, workshop facilitators, and all of the wonderful staff up at Bread Loaf for making this June Forum our most successful one yet.