Meet Tip Kennedy. Tip is a principal at Richmond West, an inner Melbourne primary school that recently received its very own Smiling Mind Space. We spoke to Tip about how she uses mindfulness as an educator and how the new space will support the school community.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
In 2018 I made the switch from the secondary to the primary sector. I have loved being part of a vibrant school community and establishing relationships with students and their parents, grandparents, younger siblings and extended family members. After more than 30 years in education, spending time in the classroom is still my favourite thing.
In secondary schools I have seen wellbeing and mental health issues in adolescents and want to do whatever I can to promote positive health in young children as they move through primary school. Working with children and their families is a great privilege.
Why do you love being a principal?
Schools are dynamic places and never dull! I love being part of teaching and learning in my own school and implementing the broader state-wide initiatives.
Community is the most important and often the most interesting aspect of my role.
How do you take care of your mind?
When my mind is not settled and calm I am much less productive and much less content. Regular mindfulness practice helps me stay grounded, responsive rather than reactive and a much nicer person to be with! I try to check in on my mind during the day and see how wild or settled it is. Quiet moments during the day are key to maintaining equilibrium and sustaining positive work.
How does your school community integrate mindfulness? How long has it been a part of your school's practices?
Richmond West has a school-wide daily mindfulness session after lunch. This helps children and teachers transition from the busy-ness of play time back into the classroom. The Smiling Mind session is played over the PA. The quiet across the school is amazing.
What benefits do you see as a result of mindfulness in the classroom? For both parents and students?
There is no difference between mindfulness in the classroom and mindfulness at home. The skill of mindfulness is a handy tool to use as a foundation of good mental health. Students and parents can benefit in the following ways:
- Greater awareness of self and others
- Emotional intelligence
- Increase in concentration
- Decrease in stress
Your school selected the Awareness Space. Why did you select Awareness? How is this mindfulness theme important to your school community?
Our school values the harmonious culture of respect and understanding which is visible in our diverse community. Awareness is a fundamental skill for mindfulness and the mindset which helps develop an understanding of self and others. We explicitly teach self-regulation and positively reinforce those behaviours in children which create good relationships between people in the community.
If I could give each child a gift it would be the gift of awareness.
What is your favourite thing about the space?
My favourite thing is the colours and furnishings used. The children love the fish tank.
How do you see your school community using the new Smiling Mind Space?
The new Smiling Mind Space is in our library. It will be used as a quiet corner for reading, reflection and mindfulness practice. It is a space for students, parents and staff. I hope the experience of awareness that students have in the space is one they can carry with them throughout the day.
How would you encourage other schools to get involved with mindfulness?
Embark on a whole community mindfulness journey. Mindfulness is well accepted as a tool for good mental health and wellbeing. Make the time to investigate what other schools are doing.
Create a dedicated mindfulness space in your school with our FREE downloadable Toolkit, developed in collaboration with Dulux colour experts