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Can mindfulness make you a better teacher? An interview with Carla Waites 

Why Begin with the Educators?

A Case for smartEducation
As teachers and helping professionals, we are confronting unprecedented challenges in our working and personal environments, while becoming increasingly aware of the value of acquiring social emotional skills. Scientific studies and significant bodies of research are showing the benefits mindfulness practice can have on our lives - on our concentration, attention and focus, executive functioning, emotional balance, social behavior, compassionate efforts, as well as, physiological health, promoting mental and physical wellbeing.

SMART (Stress Management and Resiliency Techniques) is a course designed to help us learn how to acquire these benefits through mindfulness practices and ways of relating to ourselves. In this course, we learn to fulfil the growing demands of our professional lives, to manage and live fuller healthier lives. SmartEducation teaches how to regulate ourselves, switch off ruminating thought tendencies and lighting up more positive moods, we become more aware of ourselves, both physically and mentally, to engage in response and emotion practices, so we can cope and manage ourselves more effectively. We are essentially learning skills we have not been taught; looking after ourselves is often taken for granted when tasks such as ours are to care for everyone else.

The SmartEducation program reminds us how to use, “an oxygen mask while on board a plane” so we are well before being help for others. The awareness we gain throughout this course is a deeper state of mind that enhances our meaning and purpose. As such, SmartEducation teaches us to stress-proof ourselves, to become more interconnected and to grow wiser. To cultivate mindfulness is beneficial for all of us and those we care for. When we are awakened to these kind of brain practices, an entire community can benefit, with less stress and burnout, more positive thinking, improved relationships and enriched outcomes.
~ Maryclaire Odorico

The Smart Education course provided a comprehensive curriculum covering a wide variety of topics including self-compassion, emotions and forgiveness.  The practice exercises offered different options to accommodate individual preferences/needs.

It also provided an excellent structured approach supporting participants in developing their own mindfulness practice.

I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is new to mindfulness or would like to continue to cultivate their practice.
~ Jenny Baretto

The SMART program came into my life just when I needed it. As a new teacher at the time, I was feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. This was compounded by the fact that I worked in a challenging work environment, where I was barely staying afloat. The SMART program gave me practical tools and a community that truly saved me. I would have left the teaching profession had I not found this outlet to equip me with self care strategies. Thank you!

Login to access smartEducation™ Online Meditations for SMART ParticipantsAudio Meditations

What participants say about the program

“The class was excellent. I was particularly surprised/pleased with how the wisdom/benefits of the practices became clear to me slowly over the course of the sessions. I learned from doing rather than just listening to a lecture.”

“I now approach my day with greater confidence.”
This course reminded me that I can take care of myself too, and still be a hard-working, valuable and caring teacher.”


Professional Development for Educators and Helping Professionals

smartEducation™ - A 9-Session Renewal Program

smartEducation™ (SMART: Stress Management and Resiliency Techniques) is an evidence-based program designed to address the needs of educators (K-12 and post-secondary), professional support staff, mental health professionals and community leaders, involved in the education and care of children, youth, and young adults.

Who Should Attend
Education professionals including teachers, educational assistants, child and youth workers, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, audiologists and speech-language pathologists, physiotherapists, student support staff as well as administrators and office staff. The program is also suitable for helping professionals who work with children and teens, including health care professionals, community leaders and staff. Previous experience with mindfulness is not required.

Download the brochure HERE

Course Overview: This evidence-based course trains participants to better manage work-related and personal stress, in order to cultivate emotional balance. SMART integrates the teachings, practices and research from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, emotion theory, and compassion training to address the specific needs and challenges of helping professionals. Each session consists of presentations, group discussion and experiential practices in mindfulness. A 4-hour silent retreat and weekly home practice is also part of the course.

Course Format: The 20 hour program is delivered in a workshop setting, consists of 8 x two hour sessions, a 4 hour silent retreat and includes home practice. Successful participants receive a Certificate of Completion.

Learning Outcomes: The course trains participants to:

  • Manage stress through a greater understanding and control of emotions
  • Employ self-care techniques to cultivate personal and professional resilience.
  • Create effective strategies for relating to challenging situations.
  • Enhance concentration and executive function (planning, decision-making, and impulse control).
  • Revitalize purpose, personally and professionally
  • Improve your overall mental and physical health
  • Promote happiness through healthy habits of the mind

Mindfulness Everyday Refund Policy for SMART

We are confident you will find our classes enjoyable and beneficial. However, we do understand there are times when you may need to drop out of the course. Our refund policy is to provide a full refund, less a $50.00 administration fee, if the request is in writing and received by us, at least 5 business days prior to the course start. For subsequent written requests to withdraw, received by us up to 48 hours prior to the start of the second class, a refund of course fee will be given, less $100.00 to cover our costs up to that time (not including materials received). Course fees will not be refunded thereafter.

To request a refund, please send an email to, indicating your name, the name of the class, reason for the refund, and a phone number where you can be reached in case of questions.

*Prices quoted may change without notice reflecting market changes beyond our control.

Insurance: SMART is not therapy or medical treatment. However, some insurance plans do cover health education and wellness classes. If your plan covers Mindfulness-based programs, we will provide the information you need to request reimbursement directly from your insurer.


Thirty years of informed basic research and, more recently, neuroscience, offer compelling evidence to support the use of employing mindfulness practices in education. The application of mindfulness by students and teachers has the potential to improve academic achievement, mental health, and positive relationships. Scientific studies show that mindfulness training develops one’s concentration, attention, executive function, (planning, decision making, and impulse control), emotional balance, pro-social behavior, compassionate action and promotes mental well- being. More Information Here

Mental Health - Mindfulness as Professional Development smartUBC™

by Karen Ragoonaden, PhD | Visions Journal, 2016, 12 (2), p. 30

smartUBC (Stress Management and Resiliency Techniques) is a mindfulness-based professional development initiative that includes courses in education, social work and nursing. Resilience, that is, the ability to respond positively to challenges, is recognized as being crucial to success in personal and professional contexts.1 The smartEducation curriculum, administered by smartUBC, is intended for professionals in education (teachers, principals, counsellors and so on). Following the evidence-based model of the original smartEducation curriculum, other UBC departments offer similar mindfulness-based programs for professionals. The latest extension of the smartUBC initiative, smartNursing, is currently being offered in the Faculty of Health and Social Development of UBC’s Okanagan campus as part of a first-year course on relational pedagogy.

Teaching and learning self-awareness and resilience

The smartUBC programs support the development of self-care techniques, sustainable practices relating to kindness, compassion and forgiveness, in order to cultivate personal and professional resilience. The programs are non-religious and non-sectarian and are delivered by smartUBC-accredited facilitators. Attention, intention and authenticity as pathways to well-being are also core foundations of the program curricula.
By emphasizing effective mindfulness strategies, which can be used in challenging situations where strong emotions and heated discussions emerge, the smartUBC courses aim to reduce participants’ stress in their professional and personal lives by fostering a greater understanding of emotional and physiological reactions. The 20-hour course consists of eight two-hour experiential sessions (practices and interactive discussions) and one four-hour silent retreat.
One of the core components of the smartUBC initiative is the conscious cultivation of silence. Silence has many benefits for both mind and body. Silence helps to settle the emotions and thoughts that are activated within us when we engage in talking and listening. As we calm our intellectual and emotional engagement, our bodies begin to relax. In sustained silence, our senses become more acute. We are able to tune in to quieter thoughts and an expanded awareness of our self and our environment.
This sort of mindfulness, and focused mindfulness activities, are important elements of the resiliency techniques taught in the smartUBC programs. Meditation, emotional awareness, self-regulation and movement are also all integral components. Weekly sessions involve guided practices, sharing circles and mindful listening, as well as brief overviews of emotion theory and pro-social behaviour (like helping and sharing). Participants are encouraged to develop sustainable daily mindful habits with the goal to improve personal, emotional, mental and physical health. For example, breathing awareness exercises, mindful walking and mindful eating can be used in the workplace in an informal manner.

The benefits of mindfulness

Supporting the mental health of professionals is important—not only for individuals but also for the wider community. Mindfulness protocols are highly regarded as a non-invasive health intervention tool with evidence-based success. The smartUBC programs provide accessible curricula that support well-being in numerous contexts.
Recently, neuroscience has offered compelling evidence that mindfulness practices in professional contexts can have many positive outcomes. Studies show that mindfulness training develops one’s concentration, attention, executive function (planning, decision-making and impulse control), emotional balance, social behaviour and compassionate action. It also promotes all aspects of well-being. The regular practice of mindfulness in the workplace has the potential to revitalize one’s purpose, improve one’s achievement and foster positive interpersonal communication and relationships. Research studies focusing on the impact of the original smartEducation curriculum suggest that practising mindfulness decreases occupational stress and compassion burnout, or apathy towards one’s fellow human beings.2,3
In our modern, hyper-connected, hyper-paced professional contexts, where burnout, competition and anxiety abound, the smartUBC programs offer an antidote to the frenetic pace of contemporary life. By encouraging the exploration of individual pathways using guided practices, the programs help participants develop practical mindfulness techniques that can be employed in everyday personal and professional situations. In this way, the mindfulness courses equip individuals to address the challenge of being mindful and non-judgemental, and of being present in the moment.
If you are interested in enrolling in a smartUBC course or in becoming a smartUBC facilitator, please visit the smartUBC website at


  • “This course reminded me that I can take care of myself too, and still be a hard-working, valuable and caring colleague.”
  • “I hoped I would learn ways to incorporate mindfulness, relaxation and meditation in my workplace. I had no idea it would help me personally.”
  • “It surpassed every expectation I could have had. I got more from this course than any course I have ever taken. It allowed me to learn about me and that, as a health care provider, is the most important learning you could ever do.”
  • “I now approach my day with greater confidence.”
  • “Transformational!"

About the author

Dr. Ragoonaden is Chair of the smartUBC curriculum and certification committee. Based in Kelowna, she is committed to providing educational leadership in research, teaching, curriculum design and innovation, and to mindfulness-based initiatives in the areas of education and health. Her recent work focuses on mindful teaching and learning.
For more information on smartUBC certification and curriculum, contact Karen at


  • Ragoonaden, K. (2015). Mindful teaching and learning: Developing a pedagogy of well-being. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
  • Taylor, C., Harrison, J., Haimovitz, K., Oberle, E., Thomson, K., Schonert-Reichl, K. & Roeser, R.W. (2016). Examining ways that a mindfulness-based intervention reduces stress in public school teachers: A mixed-methods study. Mindfulness, 7(1)115-129.
  • Roeser, R.W., Schonert-Reichl, K.A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., Oberle, E., Thomson, K., Taylor, C. & Harrison, J. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control field trials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 787-804.

Download Complete Article HERE

smartUBCSMART (Stress Management & Resiliency Techniques) originally developed in the US is now managed by smartUBC, a not for profit unit of the University of British Columbia and coordinated through the Faculty of Education, UBC Okanagan campus. UBC researches and manages the development of the evidence base for continual updating of the curriculum. More Information Here