Mindfulness Training Improves Middle School Teachers’ Occupational Health, Well-Being, and Interactions with Students in Their Most Stressful Classrooms

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Journal of Educational Psychology




Mindfulness training (MT) for teachers has become popular, yet gaps remain in our understanding of the time-course of the impacts of MT on teacher- and classroom-outcomes; the generalizability of MT impacts on elementary versus secondary teachers; and how characteristics of teachers and schools may moderate the impacts of MT. In this randomized-controlled trial, we examine the near- and longer-term impacts of the Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance (MBEB) program with regard to improving middle school teachers’ mindfulness, self-compassion, occupational health and well-being, and quality of interactions with students in their self-nominated “most stressful classroom.” The sample included 58 sixth through eighth grade teachers randomized to condition (n = 29 MBEB and n = 29 Waitlist Control) who were assessed at baseline, postprogram, and follow-up (4 months later). Results showed that compared with controls, MBEB teachers reported greater occupational self-compassion and less job stress and anxiety at postprogram and follow-up; as well as less emotional exhaustion and depression at follow-up. No observed differences in quality of teachers’ interactions with students in their most stressful classrooms (classroom organization or emotional support) were found at postprogram. At follow-up, however, results showed MBEB teachers had better classroom organization than control teachers. Exploratory analyses showed that longer-term impacts of MBEB were moderated by teaching experience and school type, with newer teachers (≤ 5 years) and teachers in Grades 6–8 schools showing more beneficial personal and classroom outcomes at follow-up compared with more experienced teachers or those working in Grades K–8 schools, respectively. Implications for future research and teacher professional development are discussed.