Findings – CARE Study #1
In 2009 the US Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences awarded a grant to Penn State University (with a subaward to the Garrison Institute) to refine and pilot test the effects of CARE in reducing teacher stress and improving teacher well-being, efficacy and mindfulness (IES grant #R305A090179) [i]. This randomized trial examined effects involving 50 teachers from urban and suburban schools in Pennsylvania. The results for the first cohort of teachers were published in the Journal of Classroom Interaction [ii], and in a volume on teacher education [iii]. Analyses of qualitative data were published in the journal Mindfulness [iv][v]. The findings from both cohorts of teachers were reported in the journal School Psychology Quarterly [vi]. The findings showed significant improvements in well-being, efficacy, and mindfulness among teachers who participated in CARE compared to the control group. These findings, supported by the qualitative data, suggested that CARE is a promising tool to help teachers create and maintain a positive classroom learning environment, avoid burnout and attrition, and enjoy and excel in their work.
Findings – CARE Study #2
In 2012 Penn State University was awarded a second grant from the Instiitute of Educational Sciences (with a subaward to Garrison Institute) to complete a large multi-site randomized controlled trial in New York City elementary schools (R305A120180) [vii]. This study involved 224 teachers from 36 New York City public schools. The findings replicated previous results showing teacher improvements on emotiona regulation, mindfulness and reductions in psychological distress and time management.
To examine teacher instructional quality, each classrooms were observed both before and after CARE 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. In addition, CARE classrooms demonstrated higher degrees of productivity than did control classrooms. These results were published in 2017 in the Journal of Educational Psychology[viii]. A recent qualitative report (published in American Journal of Education) [ix] explores how CARE creates resilience that enables teachers to respond more compassionately with students and colleagues. Currently, analyses are examining whether teacher improvements are stable over time and whether CARE has impacts on student outcomes.
What we have learned.
With today’s high levels of stress and burnout among teachers, districts are looking for science- tested means to support their teaching staff. The results of the CARE data are significant for several reasons. First, the series of CARE studies consistently show improvements for teachers that 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 to examine intervention effects on the classroom. 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.
[ii] Jennings, P. A., Snowberg, K. E., Coccia, M. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2011). Improving classroom learning environments by Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE): Results of two pilot studies. Journal of Classroom Interactions. 46, 37-48. Published online doi:www.jciuh.org/issues/vol6no1/Jciv46-1.pdf
[iii] Jennings, P. A. (2011). Promoting teachers’ social and emotional competencies to support performance and reduce burnout. In A. Cohan & A. Honigsfeld (Eds.) Breaking the Mold of Pre- service and In-service Teacher Education: Innovative and Successful Practices for the 21st Century. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
[iv] Sharp, J. E. & Jennings. P. A. (2016). Strengthening teacher presence through mindfulness: What educators say about the Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) program. Mindfulness. 7,209-216:doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0474-8
[v] Schussler, D. L., Jennings, P. A., Sharp, J. E. & Frank, J. L. (2015). Improving teacher awareness and well-being through CARE: A qualitative analysis of the underlying mechanisms. Mindfulness. Published online: doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0422-7.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-015-0474-8
[viii] Jennings, P. A., Brown, J. L., Frank, J. L., Doyle, S., Oh, Y., Davis, R., . . . 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(7), 1010-1028. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1037/edu0000187