Mindfulness involves learning to direct attention to our experience as it is unfolding, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Interventions which teach mindfulness are proliferating in all sectors, including most recently in education for students and staff. It is a skill that can be learned quickly and developed with practice. Here are some of the benefits of mindfulness for school staff that is based on growing evidence:
- Enhanced job performance, including better classroom management and organisation, greater ability to prioritise, to see the whole picture, to be more self-motivated and autonomous, to show greater attunement to students’ needs, and achieve more supportive relationships with them.
- Reductions in stress and burnout, including a reduction in days off work and feelings of task and time pressure, improved ability to manage thoughts and behaviour, an increase in coping skills, motivation, planning and problem solving, and taking more time to relax.
- Increased kindness and compassion to others, including greater empathy, tolerance, forgiveness and patience, and less anger and hostility.
- Better mental health including less distress, negative emotion, depression and anxiety.
- Better physical health, including lower blood pressure, declines in cortisol (a stress hormone) and fewer physical health problems.
- Increased cognitive performance, including the ability to pay attention and focus, make decisions and respond flexibly to challenges.
- Greater wellbeing, including life satisfaction, self-confidence, self-efficacy, self compassion and sense of personal growth.
There are many reasons why the development of mindfulness for teachers and school staff is a welcome move. Mindfulness has the capacity to improve staff occupational wellbeing and job satisfaction, improve performance, and reduce the wasted expenditure and human misery represented by the many days of stress related sickness and attrition from the teaching profession. The evidence base for the beneficial impact of mindfulness on the young is growing rapidly and students clearly need teachers skilled in mindfulness to teach it.
Mindfulness intervention is demonstrably more effective when taught by those who can understand from within what their students are learning, and model and embody the particular qualities that mindfulness develops, such as flexibility, attention, open minded curiosity, kindliness, empathy, compassion, acceptance, and patience, in their everyday interactions with children. These are skills and attitudes that underlie all effective engagement with young people: mindfulness for school staff clearly has a central role to play in educational improvement.
Please feel welcome to contact me anytime for further information. Mindfully Yours with the next generation in focus.