Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout

Date:
August 28, 2013
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Teachers who practice "mindfulness" are better able to reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to a new study.

Teachers who practice "mindfulness" are better able to reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to a new study conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at UW-Madison's Waisman Center.

The results of the study, led by Assistant Scientist Lisa Flook, were recently published in the journal Mind, Brain and Education.

Mindfulness, a notion that stems from centuries-old meditative traditions and is now taught in a secular way, is a technique to heighten attention, empathy and other pro-social emotions through an awareness of thoughts, external stimuli, or bodily sensations such as breath.

While teachers play a critical role in nurturing children's well-being, progress in addressing teacher stress has been elusive. Stress and burnout among teachers is a major concern for school districts nationwide, affecting the quality of education and incurring increased costs in recruiting and sustaining teachers.

For the study, a group of 18 teachers was recruited to take part in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, a well-established and well-studied method of mindfulness training. The project team adapted the MBSR training to fit the particular needs and time demands of elementary school teachers. It was among the first efforts to train teachers, in addition to students, in mindfulness techniques and to examine the effects of this training in the classroom.

"We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers," says Flook, who has advanced degrees in education and psychology and whose primary interest is in exploring strategies to reduce stress and promote well-being in children and adolescents.

The teachers who received the training were randomly assigned and asked to practice a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day. They also learned to use specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressors in the classroom, such as "dropping in," a term to describe the process of bringing attention to the sensations of breath and other physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions for brief periods of time. The training also included caring practices to bring kind awareness to their experiences, especially those that are challenging.

One of the goals of the study was to evaluate outcomes using measures that could be affected by mindfulness training. The researchers found that those who received the mindfulness training displayed reductions in psychological stress, improvements in classroom organization and increases in self-compassion. In comparison, the group that did not receive the training showed signs of increased stress and burnout over the course of the school year. These results provide objective evidence that MBSR techniques are beneficial to teachers.

"The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practicing mindfulness," says Flook, who also leads CIHM's "Kindness Curriculum" study involving 4-year-old preschoolers.

Madison teacher Elizabeth Miller discovered that mindfulness is a meditative technique that does not require "just sitting still and trying to observe your thoughts," which she said was difficult for her. The course showed her that mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at any time.

Although Miller had practiced meditation before participating in the study, it had never occurred to her to use some of the mindfulness techniques, such as focusing on the breath, in the classroom. Now Miller uses this tool throughout the day, such as between subject areas or after recess, to refocus her students' attention, inviting them to pause and take three deep breaths together before beginning math, for example.

"Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice," says Miller. "Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they're feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers."

Next, Flook would like to work on replicating the study's initial findings through a larger-scale, national project that also connects students. "We want to explore how the teacher practice can be sustained, and how that affects the students, she says. "Can we train the teachers to also teach mindfulness? What effect does that have on the students?"

Richard J. Davidson, the study's senior author and CIHM founder and chair, added that "in the future, the group will explore the synergistic impact of teacher and student training on a variety of individual and classroom outcomes."

In addition to Flook and Davidson, authors of the paper include Simon B. Goldberg, Laura Pinger and Katherine Bonus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by Jill Ladwig. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lisa Flook, Simon B. Goldberg, Laura Pinger, Katherine Bonus, Richard J. Davidson. Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout, and Teaching Efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 2013; 7 (3): 182 DOI: 10.1111/mbe.12026

Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828144851.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2013, August 28). Mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828144851.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828144851.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins