Inner Strength Professional Development at Pendle Hill

By Neanta Parnell

On a cool, Spring morning Inner Strength staff gathered to complete professional development training targeted toward reducing stress in teachers. The training was held at Pendle Hill, a Quaker owned and operated study, retreat, and conference center.

Pendle Hill is situated in a quiet alcove in the Nether providence township of Pennsylvania, surrounded by trees and deer. Quaker staff provide healthy meals that are prepared using produce grown on the premises. The peaceful setting lent itself well to Inner Strength staff honing mindfulness techniques intended to give space and uplift teachers of the Philadelphia school district. Led by Amy Edelstein, we practiced facilitating contemplative journaling exercises, love and kindness practices, and de-escalation techniques that served to alleviate stress by redirecting reflective focus toward curiosity, positive change, practicing ease, and anchoring steps. The anchoring steps, a way to deal with intense emotions, seemed to be a staff favorite.

The 5 Anchor Steps of Stress Management provides a simple yet powerful and actionable way to work through hard emotions. Inspired by the work of Howard Stevenson, these anchor steps allow teachers to manage emotions in the event of a stressful situation. Teachers work through these five steps: (1) identifying the intensity level of the emotion they are feeling, (2) identifying where the emotion lands in the body, (3) breathing into those parts of the body, (4) giving a name to the emotion(s), and (5) choosing how to respond or asking for support where needed. Inner Strength staff left the training feeling excited to share these techniques with Philadelphia teachers.

Inner Strength quarterly day retreats off-site give our team the opportunity to explore and deepen our own skills and strengthen the bonds between us, something everyone appreciated!

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