Does Teacher Well-Being Impact Student Outcomes? The WISE Report

Let’s all agree that teachers have a difficult job and that their well-being is important in its own right!  But policymakers in education have not been interested in seriously investing in teacher well-being unless it can be shown that teacher-well-being is directly linked to student outcomes.  As a result, to date most PD for educator well-being is done without much funding, forethought or planning and honestly is likely to have little or no impact on teachers or students.

So, it is exciting to see the release of the report Leveraging the Evidence on the Relationship between Teacher and Student Well-being in Learning and Teaching” written by Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and colleagues with funding from the WISE platform of the Qatar Foundation. This extensive project included a scoping review of the international literature as well as educator and student interviews in five countries.

The scoping review included 67 studies from around the world (34% conducted in the US) and here are highlights.

  • 93% of the studies found a positive relationship between teacher well-being and student well-being.
  • 84% of the studies showed a positive relationship between teacher well-being and student learning and achievement.

The qualitative interviews with teacher and students found:

  • Educators with higher levels of well-being were more likely to use innovative teaching techniques, support student input that increased interaction and learning, and facilitated more advanced cognitive learning.
  • In contrast, educators will lower well-being were more like to use rote teaching techniques lead to lower student enthusiasm and greater student disengagement.

While there is a need for more studies that show a causal relationship (not just a correlational one- see below), the conclusions of the report are sufficient to call for increasing support for facilitating teacher well-being and its downstream effects on student success.

An important recommendation of the report is to:

        Disseminate Evidence-Based Approaches to Mitigate Educator Burnout 

Recent findings on the CARE Program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) illustrate this very point.  In a large randomized controlled study of CARE in NY City Schools, findings have shown that teachers who participate in the CARE Program show:

  • Lower burnout and greater well-being
  • Greater enjoyment and efficacy in teacher
  • Improved instruction and classroom atmosphere (observed)
  • Children had significantly higher engagement in the classroom, motivation to learn and reading proficiency relative to children of teachers in the control condition.

What Are the Key Features of CARE?
CARE nutures educators’ 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 greater equity, 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 it requires 3 days spread out over 2 to 3 months during the school year (online and post-training resources provide additional support). 

Brown, J.L., Jennings, P.A., Rasheed, D.S., Cham, H., Doyle, S.L., Frank, J.F., Davis, R., & and Greenberg, M.T. (2023). Direct and Moderating Impacts of the CARE Mindfulness-Based Professional Learning Program for Teachers on Children’s Academic and Social-Emotional Outcomes. Applied Developmental Science.
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.

My colleagues at Yale are working on a measure that will help researchers like me better support teachers. Earn $50 by helping my colleagues learn from your experiences in the classroom. Go to the OAMM-T survey link to get started. 




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