Wellness Warrior Spotlight
Name: Jill Vandemoortele
Occupation: High School Intervention Specialist

How have you been teaching “Double Down Day” in your setting?
I started incorporating the Double Down Day since mid February of 2018 after Lyndsay came and presented to staff in my district. I think I started it the next day in one of the PE classes I was leading. In late 2017 I began a partnership with one of our High School PE classes to lead a weekly mindful movement lesson. It went so well that we continued it on for the rest of the 17-18 school year and this year I am leading a weekly mindful movement lesson in 3 of her PE classes; 1 of those classes is an Adaptive PE for students with special needs.
 
I use the Double Down Day in two of these classes. First, I teach students about setting intentions and then at our second or third lesson which is focused on community we do partner moves and I introduce The DDD. I let them know that we will form partners/small groups where they can share their intentions with this partner, own and control their day and receive support from their partner if needed.
 
I encourage students to set their intention as if the day has come to an end and they can lay their head on their pillow and think "wow, that was a great day". I usually give the students about 2-3 minutes at the start of each class to huddle up with their partner and share their intentions. I will often ask for a few volunteer groups to share one another's intentions to not only allow others to hear and support but also a spot check for me to gauge understanding of intention setting.

I usually give the students about 2-3 minutes at the start of each class to huddle up with their partner and share their intentions.  I will often ask for a few volunteer groups to share one another's intentions to not only allow others to hear and support but also a spot check for me to gauge understanding of intention setting.

I also get an opportunity to do a weekly lesson in two of our school's classes for students with social skills/behavioral goals on their IEP's. At the start of each class I have students set their intentions and do The Doubler.  We do this either in a journal or as part of their Google Classroom. I've enjoyed adding The Doubler to our warm ups because it provides an opportunity for students to share about something good happening no matter how small it may be.  And the benefit to keeping them in their journal/online class is that students can reflect on these positive memories at any time.
 

What’s the result (data, success story, observation)?  

Anecdotally, students last year reported to the PE teacher that they felt much better, relaxed and wanted more.  In an end of the year assessment I completed for a few of the classes where I lead weekly lesson when I asked students to list what they found the most helpful/useful it was the breathing exercises and movement activities.  Even students who would grumble at some of the activities reported this was the most helpful. 


What lessons did you learn through teaching these skills? Is there anything that you didn’t think of that came up when teaching these habits?

I am constantly learning from students and what comes through over and over is the importance of establishing community and a sense of safety and support.  For students to be able to move forward on their own journey they need to know that they are not only physically but mentally/emotionally safe and supported. I am also reminded to not rush through to get to the next skill and that it is OK to stay focused on establishing community/support/safety if that is where the students are at.  

What advice do you have for teachers, counselors or principals who wish to incorporate The Doubler or Double Down Day into their setting. What worked? What didn’t work? Why should they start? What is the first step?

First is to just start! If you are curious about what mindfulness is, positive psychology, trauma informed interventions I encourage you to do some research and you will be pleasantly surprised at how small interventions can have a huge impact.  Personally, I have viewed this past 1 1/2 year as taking a risk, being vulnerable and showing up. I call them my Brene Brown moments. When I tell teachers that I want to add something like The Doubler or DDD I have pleasantly been met with acceptance and a 'lets do it' attitude.  And when I do encounter a naysayer be it a student or staff I just present the science behind these interventions and let the data speak for itself. Plus, all of this is free and most anyone can do it!

For teachers, both The Doubler or DDD are super easy additions to a beginning of the class warm up activity.  Counselors can add The Doubler to individual student meetings and the DDD is easy to incorporate into small group or whole class lessons.   

For administrators I see utilizing the DDD as a way to bring together an admin team or counselor/admin team as a way to focus and support each other in our hard work. At my school we have a weekly counselor/admin meeting where I introduced a positive close to our meetings.  We all go around and say something that we are grateful for. It has pleasantly changed the tone of those meetings.

Rapid Fire Questions:

(short response, first thing that comes to mind)

 

  • Whole child education is: Everything. Taking into account everything the student brings with them, the good, bad, what they know, don't know and not penalizing or blaming them for that.
  • The number one skill that high school students need in 2018 is: How to cope with their own 'stuff' aka life in a helpful way that doesn't hurt themselves or others.
  • Favorite book (for children or adults) is: Adults- currently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I have 3 little kids and they like the book Peace is an Offering which has a great message.
  • Happiness practices are important to teach because: Who doesn't want to be happier?
  • Favorite uplifting song that inspires you is: Mathew Wilder's Break My Strides. It literally makes me get up and move... "ain't nothing break my stride, I got to keep on moving!"

 

"Jill Vandemoortele, you are a true Wellness Warrior, helping students develop the tools to thrive in school and in life! Thanks for sharing your story."


Download our Free Gratitude Relaxation

Enjoy a peaceful beginning and/or ending to the class period/school day with this free audio relaxation designed for the classroom setting. Notice how students and staff are more focused and calm.

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