Teachers Tuning In

Patricia Jennings explains how a new program is bringing the benefits of mindfulness to the classroom.

“How’s it going?” I asked Susan during our follow-up phone coaching session. A second-grade teacher, Susan had recently completed the first weekend of the Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) mindfulness-based teacher professional development program, and had begun practicing bringing a more mindful approach to her teaching.

“Wow!” she said, “I was amazed this week. Instead of raising my voice, I tried taking a deep breath and calming myself down. I can’t believe how well this worked. The kids actually began to calm down too.” Over the past three years, I’d heard similar stories from teachers applying CARE to their interactions with their students.

CARE, a federally-funded research project being conducted by the Pennsylvania State University, in collaboration with the Garrison Institute, couldn’t have come at a better time. With budget cuts and the increasing demands of high-stake testing, teachers’ stress is at an all-time high. Add a growing number of students with emotional and behavioral problems to that equation and it isn’t hard to see why teachers are having a rough time. In fact, nearly 50 per cent of teachers leave the field within their first five years. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (2007) estimates…