RESEARCH PROBLEM: Educational systems find themselves in a constant state of flux with continuous restructuring and the work of teachers increasing in complexity (Hargreaves, 1998). The nature and pace of this institutional change along with the highly emotional nature of the classroom set the stage for what can become highly stressful experiences. Educational systems appear to assume, in part by virtue of its absence in training, that teachers have the requisite social and emotional competencies necessary to negotiate the emotional terrain of the classroom. The growing problem of teacher burnout and attrition contradict this assumption. A burgeoning body of research on mindfulness reveals the potential of mindfulness-based practices to decrease stress and improve well-being. A wide variety of neuroscientific research has shown the effects of mindfulness practices on brain activity and physiology. Most recently, studies on the effects of various mindfulness-based interventions in education have shown promise.
METHODS: This qualitative study explores the ways in which mindfulness practices influence the lived experiences of teachers in a public middle school. The teachers in this study participate in a course designed for educators. This course combines a variety of mindfulness practices and practical in-the-moment strategies that can be incorporated into everyday life. At the conclusion of the course, teachers participated in focus group discussions and individual interviews during which teachers provide rich descriptions of their experiences.
RESEARCH QUESTION: What is the lived experience of middle school teachers engaged in mindfulness practice?
KEY FINDINGS: 1. Mindfulness increases awareness of oneself and others and enhances teachers’ ability to choose a response rather than succumb to automatic reactions. 2. A mindful response includes specific common mechanisms including pausing, distancing, appraisal, reappraisal, and choice. 3. Mindfulness improves communication both in terms of transmission (speaking) and reception (listening). 4. Increased awareness fosters a greater sense of empathy and compassion which thereby promotes the expression of a mindful response. 5. Mindfulness reduces feelings of isolation through an increased recognition that negative experiences and struggles are common. Participation in the mindfulness course also results in feelings of close connection and community within the group.
|Commitee:||Jennings, Patricia A., Ravitch, Sharon M.|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Middle School education, Education, Teacher education|
|Keywords:||Emotional intelligence, Mindfulness, Professional development, Social emotional competence (SEC), Stress, Well-being|
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