Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE)®
Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, but it can also be one of the most stressful. CARE is a unique program designed to help teachers, other educators and administrators learn how to 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 all educators, these resources can provide the inner strength to be powerfully present and emotionally responsive. As a result, educators become effective guides, and influential models of healthy social and emotional behavior.
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 educators often encounter. Through these activities, educators 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.
A new version of CARE has been specifically designed for supporting the personal development and leadership of principals, assistant principals and other school administrators. CARE has also been used with higher education faculty to sharpen their awareness and presence in their teaching.
The CARE program can be presented in a variety of formats depending upon the particular context. The yearly retreat at the Garrison Institutes is a four day-long experience. CARE is also provided as a series of day-long sessions over a period of months with intersession support via internet to support teachers’ practice and application of new skills.
“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 student in schools and other learning communities.”
The program involves a blend of didactic instruction and experiential activities, including time for reflection and discussion. Educators who have completed the program say they found it relaxing, enjoyable and inspiring. Several educators share their experience with the program in this video. The CARE Program has supported educators in the US, Canada, The Netherlands, China, Croatia, and Germany. All training for CARE is provided by CREATE for Education.
With today’s high levels of stress and burnout among teachers, districts are looking for science-tested ways to support their teaching staff. The CARE professional development program is proving to be an effective solution. A series of rigorous Federally funded studies has examined the impacts of CARE on teacher, classroom and student outcomes. The results of this research have been published in a series of peer-reviewed journal articles. Consistently, research has found that CARE significantly improves well-being and reduces stress among teachers who participated in CARE compared to those randomly assigned to a control group. Research findings can be reviewed at https://createforeducation.org/care/care-research/
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, a large cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in New York City recently involved 224 teachers and over 5,000 students. This study replicated previous results in teacher improvements but also demonstrated that CARE improves important dimensions of the classroom. Classrooms were observed and coded by trained researchers blind to the study aims and the teachers’ random assignment. Compared to classrooms in the control group, CARE classrooms were more emotionally positive and the teachers demonstrated greater sensitivity to their students’ needs. Finally CARE classrooms demonstrated higher degrees of productivity than controls. A follow-up report found that CARE teachers showed continued significant decreases in psychological distress, reductions in ache-related physical distress, significant increases in emotion regulation and some dimensions of mindfulness. Findings indicate that teachers who participated in CARE reported both sustained and new benefits regarding their well-being at a follow-up assessment almost one-year post-intervention.
These results are particularly significant for several reasons. First, the series of CARE studies all showing improvements for teachers provide clear evidence that CARE is an effective professional development program for reducing teachers’ occupational stress and promoting their well-being. Second, the NYC study is the largest and most rigorous study of a mindfulness-based professional development for teachers and the first of its kind to examine intervention effects on the classroom and student outcomes. Third, the results of the NYC study showing impacts on the classroom are important because they demonstrate an important relationship between teachers’ well-being and classroom quality. Finally, this study is a “proof of concept” that a mindfulness-based intervention can have impacts on both individuals and their work environment. Tish Jennings discusses some of the findings of the study and their implications here.