Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, but it can also be one of the most stressful. CARE for Teachers is a unique program designed to help teachers reduce stress and enliven their teaching by promoting awareness, presence, compassion, reflection, and inspiration - the inner resources they need to help students flourish, socially, emotionally and academically.
Cutting-edge neuroscience confirms that practicing mindfulness facilitates awareness and self-regulation and develops the capacity for a calm, focused mind — a mind with the openness, responsiveness and sensitivity for optimal teaching, guiding, and learning. For teachers, these resources can provide the inner strength to be powerfully present and emotionally responsive. As a result, teachers become effective guides, and influential models of healthy social and emotional behavior.
"As a teacher educator, I learned and re-learned vital knowledge, skills and attitudes for fostering social, emotional and academic learning in my graduate students, and through them to K-12 students in schools and other learning communities."
Based upon current research on the neuroscience of emotion, CARE introduces emotion skills instruction to promote understanding, recognition and regulation of emotion. To reduce stress, and to promote awareness and presence applied to teaching, CARE introduces basic mindfulness activities such as short periods of silent reflection, and progresses to activities that demonstrate how to bring mindfulness to challenging situations teachers often encounter. Through these activities, teachers learn to bring greater calm, mindfulness and awareness into the classroom to enhance their relationships with their students, their classroom management, and curricular implementation. The CARE program also promotes empathy and compassion through caring practice and mindful listening activities.
The CARE program is designed to be presented in four day-long sessions spread out over four to five weeks. Intersession coaching via phone and internet supports teachers’ practice and application of new skills. The program involves a blend of didactic instruction and experiential activities, including time for reflection and discussion. Teachers who have completed the program say they found it relaxing, enjoyable and inspiring. The Garrison Institute works with schools to develop sustainability and provide ongoing support for teachers. The CARE curriculum has been piloted in several sites across the US, in Colorado, California, Pennsylvania and New York. It has also been adapted to support teachers and clinical staff at a school for children who have been exposed to trauma.
CARE for Teachers is also offered through a five-day, annual summer retreat at the Garrison Institute which attracts educators from across the US and around the world - click here for more information on this year's retreat. Here’s what some past CARE summer retreat participants have told us about their experiences:
"The CARE practices feel like the answer to the challenges educators are facing in this current climate."
"[CARE] has given me the tools and skills to be more calm and centered. In a particular situation, I can act in response to what is needed in the moment, rather than reacting to it…They create an atmosphere of confidence, trust, and more joy in the classroom."
"CARE for teachers was a profound experience…I deepened my listening skills, which has allowed me to be less reactive both personally and professionally. I also came to know myself better through this program...I wish all teachers would consider CARE for their personal well being in these stressful times and to help the children they inspire. It was a life changing experience."
After three years of development and piloting, in 2009 the US Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences awarded a grant to the Penn State University Prevention Research Center with a subaward to the Garrison Institute to refine the CARE for Teachers program and to complete a preliminary pilot study of its efficacy in reducing teacher stress and improving teacher well-being, efficacy and mindfulness. (IES grant #R305A090179).
Garrison Institute IES Grant (26.97 kB)
The results of the first year of this two-year study were published in a recent article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Classroom Interaction, and in a recently published book on teacher education. Data suggest that CARE is a promising tool to help teachers create and maintain a positive classroom learning environment, avoid burnout and attrition, and enjoy and excel in their work. The research team found significant improvements in well-being, efficacy, and mindfulness among teachers who participated in CARE compared to the control group. These results are reported in a paper presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA).
The next step will be to further the research by offering CARE in a multi-site randomized control trial, measuring not only outcomes in teachers but also looking at effects on student outcomes (including test scores) and overall classroom learning environments. Penn State recently received a 3.5 million dollar grant (with a subaward to Garrison Institute) to complete such a trial with elementary teachers in New York City (R305A120180).