Principal Gaytan’s health was in trouble during his first teaching job in San Jose. He was over-stressed, overweight, and diagnosed with sleep apnea due to the challenges of his job. But a friend introduced him to a monk, and Gaytan began learning and practicing mindfulness. Within six months he lost weight and reversed his sleep apnea, and he’s been practicing mindfulness ever since.
Gaytan believes that mindfulness helps him succeed as an educator and a leader. He feels better but, more importantly, mindfulness allows him to choose the qualities that he wants to embody: relaxed, empathetic, and willing to listen. These qualities help his students open up and connect with him. And studies - and personal experience - show that strong connections nurture effective learning. When Gaytan introduced mindfulness into his classroom, his students’ test and reading scores accelerated. What seemed impossible - transforming a class of struggling second-graders into a class of 5th-grade level readers - became possible.
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