Mindfulness Training Improves Middle School Teachers’ Occupational Health, Well-Being, and Interactions With Students in Their Most Stressful Classrooms

Robert W. Roeser, Andrew J. Mashburn, Ellen A. Skinner, Jaiya R. Choles, Cynthia Taylor, Nicolette P. Rickert, Cristi Pinela, Jessica Robbeloth, Emily Saxton, Emily Weiss, Margaret Cullen, Jillayne Sorenson

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Abstract

Mindfulness training (MT) for teachers has become popular, yet gaps remain in our understanding of the time-course of the impacts of MT on teacher and classroom-outcomes; the generalizability of MT impacts on elementary versus secondary teachers; and how characteristics of teachers and schools may moderate the impacts of MT. In this randomized-controlled trial, we examine the near and longer-term impacts of the Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance (MBEB) program with regard to improving mid-dle school teachers’ mindfulness, self-compassion, occupational health and well-being, and quality of interactions with students in their self-nominated “most stressful classroom.” The sample included 58 sixth through eighth grade teachers randomized to condition (n = 29 MBEB and n = 29 Waitlist Control) who were assessed at baseline, postprogram, and follow-up (4 months later). Results showed that compared with controls, MBEB teachers reported greater occupational self-compassion and less job stress and anxiety at postprogram and follow-up; as well as less emotional exhaustion and depression at follow-up. No observed differences in quality of teachers’ interactions with students in their most stress-ful classrooms (classroom organization or emotional support) were found at postprogram. At follow-up, however, results showed MBEB teachers had better classroom organization than control teachers. Exploratory analyses showed that longer-term impacts of MBEB were moderated by teaching experi-ence and school type, with newer teachers (#5 years) and teachers in Grades 6–8 schools showing more beneficial personal and classroom outcomes at follow-up compared with more experienced teach-ers or those working in Grades K–8 schools, respectively. Implications for future research and teacher professional development are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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