Patricia A. Jennings, MEd, PhD, professor at the Curry School of Education explains why teachers should cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
Over the course of my over forty years as an educator and researcher, I’ve learned that teachers are often incredibly altruistic and devoted to making a positive difference in children’s lives. But too many of them are not well prepared for the social and emotional demands of today’s classroom. Stressful conditions—like high-stakes testing or students with severe psychological problems—can lead us to feel discouraged, burnt-out, and ready to quit.
Most teacher training focuses primarily on content and pedagogy, overlooking the very real social, emotional, and cognitive demands of teaching itself. Luckily, learning and cultivating skills of mindfulness—the ability to stay focused on one’s present experience with nonjudgmental awareness—can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn. Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.
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