Liz Zadnik on Getting present and bringing mindfulness into your professional practice

Happy October everyone!  I’m Liz Zadnik, aea365’s Outreach Coordinator, and I’d like to share something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  In addition to being an evaluation enthusiast, I’m also a mindfulness enthusiast and believe practicing presence and/or meditation can infinitely improve our lives (both professional and personal).


Lesson Learned: This story, about the Robert W. Coleman School in Baltimore and their partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, has been all over my social media feeds recently.  The Foundation set up a space in the school where students were sent instead of detention – they were taught deep breathing techniques and exercises to decrease stress and anger.  The school reported no suspensions in 2015 (the year after they began implementing the program) and none so far this academic year.  Students are even sharing techniques with their family members and bringing the skills to other areas of their life.  

My reason for sharing this story is to illustrate the power and impact of meditation on individuals, communities, and institutional culture.  Mediation has profound effects on our bodies, our relationships, and our brains.  What are some of the ways it can also help us be better evaluators and collaborators?  AND how can we help organizations change for the better by bringing some of these techniques to that work?     

Rad Resources:  There are so many great free and low-cost resources out there to help you build or strengthen your meditation or mindfulness practice.  

  • The Greater Good Science Center has a great resources and informational page on mindfulness and the science behind it.
  • Working with students or youth in a classroom setting?  Mind Space offers an accessible mindful listening exercise to get students in tune with their surroundings.
  • Looking for something for your smart device?  My favorite app is Headspace (full disclosure: I have an annual subscription, but you can try 10 sessions for free), I also like Calm and Buddhify.  I was recently introduced to PAUSE, based on Tai Chi techniques to focus the mind and bring you into the present.   

One last thing before you head off to set up your new meditation space, please take care of yourselves as you embark on this adventure.  If you have any trauma in your history, meditation can bring up feelings you may not have acknowledged in years.  Have a support system in place and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help.  You’re important to this world!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Liz Zadnik on Getting present and bringing mindfulness into your professional practice”

  1. Hello Liz,

    My name is Kuldeep and I am currently enrolled in a Masters of Education program at Queen’s University in Ontario. I was introduced to the AEA365 Blog through a course on Program Inquiry and Evaluation and have been asked to engage with an article that interests me. The title of your blog immediately caught my attention as I am completing a Program Evaluation Design project on a classroom based SEL program called MindUP designed to enhance self-awareness, social awareness, attention, self-regulation, problem solving, and pro-social behaviour in children from Kindergarten to Grade 8. One of the key components of this program is a “Brain Break”, controlled, focussed breathing practiced three times a day to help children think more clearly, act in a reflective manner, better regulate their emotions, reduce stress, and make better decisions.

    The power and impact of fostering a culture of mindfulness was clearly conveyed in the story about the Baltimore school where students were taught deep breathing techniques to decrease their stress and anger instead of detention. Having a “Mindful Moment Room” that students can visit when they need assistance with emotional self-regulation is great practice. As an educator, I am frequently dealing with children that display symptoms of anxiety, stress, headaches, stomach issues, and emotional distress which led me to look into a program to support our students. I believe our students and staff would both benefit from practicing mindfulness (deep breathing techniques and meditation) to ease stress, improve focus and concentration, gain better awareness and control over thoughts and emotions, and learn to relax. This is a great way to promote self-care, build better relationships between students and staff, and build a healthy support system.

    Thank you for sharing all of the great links and resources that can be used to promote mindfulness both personally and professionally. I really enjoyed reading and learning from your post – Thank you!


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