Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education
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.
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.
“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. 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. For more information, visit the CARE page on Create for Education.
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.
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 5 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.
The most recent study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology is a large cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in New York City involving 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. The next step in the research is to examine whether teacher improvements are stable over time and whether CARE has impacts on student outcomes.
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.