Weare (2014) summarising the evidence for the impact of Mindfulness on the wellbeing and performance of school staff in the UK reported on the positive impact on mindfulness studies in the following areas; physical health and well being, stress and mental health, positive well being and improved emotional and social capacities.
A review of the evidence of the impact of mindfulness teaching world-wide in schools reported that early research suggests that mindfulness in the classroom has the potential to improve classroom management skills, student-teacher relationships, and to enhance student and staff wellbeing (Albrecht et al, 2012).
Mindfulness can help teachers reduce their stress levels, improve self-esteem and foster wellbeing in the school culture. Chang (2009) has looked specifically at the difficulty of ‘teacher burnout’ (pg193) and the high levels of emotional exhaustion of teachers in America. Burnout is defined as “an erosion of engagement that what started out as important, meaningful, and challenging work becomes unpleasant, unfulfilling, and meaningless” (Maslach et al, 2001 p.416; in Chang, 2009). Chang (2009) argues that teachers face repeated difficulties that then develop into habitual patterns of judgements, about their role, the students, and teaching tasks and management. Therefore teachers who experience emotional difficulty get into a continual cycle of habitual patterns of emotional stress and exhaustion.
The argument is that if teachers had more emotional awareness of themselves, and could regulate their emotions effectively they could develop effective coping strategies and change these habits (Chang, 2009). Roeser et al (2012) provide evidence that a mindfulness training intervention for teachers can develop more positive habits of mind, arguing that traditionally the profession does not prepare teachers for the emotionally demanding nature of the work. Their research on several current interventions concludes that mindfulness can lead to more personal emotional regulation of the mind leading to improved states of mind, and emotional regulation including management skills. The impact of this is improved occupational health and wellbeing in the teacher, which also leads to building a more positive teacher student relationship (Roeser et al, 2012).
Extract taken from paper written by Dr Sheila French ( MSc. Aberdeen University 2015)