By Mark Greenberg & Christa Turksma
Teaching can be a very rewarding profession, but the stresses of the last two years have taken a great toll and we are now facing a teacher crisis of retirement and shortages that will affect and negatively impact education for a generation. A startling new Ed Week finding shows that the % of American teachers that are very satisfied with their jobs drop from 62% in 2010 to just 12% in April of 2022.
If there was ever a time, need, and opportunity to support teachers it is now! In fact, the ARP funds supports districts to focus on teacher well-being as an area for priority funding. Further, CASEL recommends that supporting teacher’s well-being should be one of the three highest priorities for district’s use of ARP funds.
Although there are numerous possible approaches to support teachers, as Catherine Gewertz writes in Education Week the CARE Program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) has careful scientific proof of its effectiveness for educators in carefully conducted randomized trials in the US and Europe.
CARE has been shown to improve teacher well-being, their efficacy and enjoyment of teaching, and to lower burnout and negative affective symptoms such as anxiety and depression. In addition, CARE has shown effects on the quality of classroom instruction (Jennings et al, 2017) and longer-term effects in the next school year (Jennings et al, 2019). Further, a number of studies have produced in-depth qualitative studies that provide the voice of participants on how CARE enables teachers to respond more compassionately with students and colleagues (Schussler et al, 2016, 2018; Sharp & Jennings, 2016; Taylor et al, 2015). Learn more about CARE and its findings here.
Drawing on current findings in the field of neuroscience, CARE offers instruction in cognitive and emotion skills that help reduce stress by promoting understanding, recognition and regulation of emotion. It introduces teachers to mindful awareness practices, beginning with short periods of silent reflection and extending to role-playing and other exercises that bring mindful awareness to the challenging situations teachers often encounter. By practicing these skills, teachers learn to cultivate calmness, awareness, presence, compassion, empathy and ability to listen. Learn more from the voices of teachers.
Mark Greenberg is the Emeritus Bennett Chair of Prevention Research at Penn State University and the Board Chair of CREATE. Christa Turksma is one of the developers of CARE and the Director of Training for CARE worldwide.