Can Supporting Teachers Have Long-Term Effects on Their Well-Being?

Mark T. Greenberg

You cannot build a long-term future on short-term thinking!

Teaching is a very rewarding profession, but it can also be a stressful profession and both the pandemic and teacher shortages have led to increased awareness of the stresses faced by educators, including support staff and administrators….and the need to provide quality supports to educators.  

Adult SEL has become a big topic of concern and there are a number of long-term steps that will be necessary to improve teacher well-being and effectiveness.  Without much forethought or planning, worried administrators create short PD sessions on mindfulness, yoga, etc. that are likely to have little or no impact.  But how can support to teachers lead to long-term impact?

Although there are numerous possible approaches to support teachers, the CARE Program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education)  has careful scientific proof of its effectiveness for educators.  CARE has been the subject of three randomized trials (two in the US; Jennings et al., 2013, Jennings et al., 2017); one involving urban and rural PA teachers and one in NY City Schools (26 schools in the Bronx). One in Croatia.

What Are the Short-Term Findings?
These well-controlled studies have shown that CARE leads to improvements in teacher well-being, reductions in teacher stress, and significant improvements in classroom instruction.  An extensive study of public elementary school teachers in New York City, showed that CARE not only improves the well-being and resiliency of the teachers, but also improves classroom atmosphere and the quality of instruction.

Do the Effects of CARE last?
 Follow-up findings during the next school year showed that teachers who participated in CARE continued to have significant decreases in psychological distress, reductions in ache-related physical distress, continued significant increases in emotion regulation compared to teachers who wanted to participate but were randomized to a waiting-list.

What Are the Key Features of CARE?
Drawing on current findings in the field of neuroscience, CARE offers instruction in cognitive and emotion skills that help reduce stress by promoting understanding, recognition and regulation of emotion. It introduces teachers to mindful awareness practices, beginning with short periods of silent reflection and extending to role-playing and other exercises that bring mindful awareness to the challenging situations teachers often encounter.  By practicing these skills, teachers learn to cultivate calmness, awareness, presence, compassion, empathy and ability to listen. Learn more from the voices of teachers.

How is CARE Delivered?
CARE is delivered both Online and Face-to-Face, but face-to-face training is recommended to increase engagement, build community and adapt the training to each school context. When CARE is delivered face-to-face it requires 3 days spread out over 2 to 3 months during the school year (online and post-training resources provide additional support).  Learn more about CARE Trainings.

References:
Jennings. P. A., Snowberg, K. E., Frank, J. L. , Coccia, M. A. & Greenberg, M. T. (2013). Improving classroom learning environments by cultivating awareness and resilience in education (CARE): Results of a randomized controlled trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 28, 374-390.

Jennings, P. A., Brown, J. L., Frank, J. L., Doyle, S., Oh, Y., Davis, R., Rasheed, D., DeWeese, A., DeMauro, A. A., Cham, H., & Greenberg, M. T. (2017). Impacts of the CARE for Teachers Program on teachers’ social and emotional competence and classroom interactions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109, 1010-1028.

Jennings, P. A., Doyle, S., Oh, Y., Rasheed, D., Frank, J. L., & Brown, J. L. (2019). Long-term impacts of the CARE program on teachers' self-reported social and emotional competence and well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 76, 186-202.

Schussler, D. L., DeWeese, A., Rasheed, D., DeMauro, A., Brown, J., Greenberg, M., & Jennings, P. A. (2018). Stress and release: Case studies of teacher resilience following a mindfulness-based intervention. American Journal of Education, 125(1), 1-28.


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