When Teachers Learn Mindfulness, Students Win

UVA Study: Mindfulness Improves Classroom Climate

It’s no secret that many teachers suffer stress from being overworked, devalued, and underpaid. And teachers aren’t the only ones feeling stressed-out in the classroom today: When teachers feel pressured, students can easily become stressed themselves, impacting their well-being and their academic achievement, as well. 

New evidence strongly indicates, however, that mindfulness training for teachers can create a classroom environment that’s more emotionally positive, says a new study from University of Virginia researchers. The study was reported in “Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,” from the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

“If you’re a teacher, you can’t walk out while you’re teaching; and if you’re a student, you can’t walk out, either—it puts a level of pressure on teachers that I don’t think many people recognize,” said Patricia Jennings, the lead author of the study, which involved 224 teachers from 36 elementary schools.

Teachers in the study were given instruction through CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education), a mindfulness-based program designed to teach awareness, stress reduction, and emotional skills. And results indicate that the training improved teachers’ mindfulness, increased their ability to manage difficult emotions, and lowered their psychological distress.

“I had a very strong suspicion that emotional reactivity was interfering with  teachers’ ability to be their best, and that the solution wasn’t just a matter of teaching more skills,” Jennings said. “It was really a matter of teaching them to self-regulate so they could be their best.” 

This latest study is just one in a growing body of research strongly suggesting that mindfulness training increases teacher well-being and improves the emotional climate of their classrooms—an important link with students’ academic achievement. I encourage you to read more about this study, be aware of what’s going on in your children’s classrooms, and do whatever you can to support the well-being of teachers, in whose care our children spend most of their young lives. 

As Jennings says, “If we don’t turn the corner on how we’re helping our teachers, we’re not going to have enough teachers to do the job.”

View the article at Greater Good


Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm