Teachers, along with physicians, show the highest levels of stress amongst all professionals, with high rates of turnover that pre-exist the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers at the Center for Healthy Minds (CHM) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a four-week smart phone-based meditation app that resulted in reduced psychological distress and improved well-being skills in over 660 Wisconsin school system employees, with implications for employee retention, performance and student outcomes.
Teachers play an important role in education outcomes. Among the strongest predictors of student achievement, says Matthew Hirshberg, lead author of the study, is the quality of the relationships teachers and students develop. Teachers who are highly distressed tend to have worse quality relationships with their students.
“Supporting well-being seems like a good place to try to approach improving teacher-student relationship quality”, says Hirshberg. “CHM has a history of doing research with teachers and students to support well- being. And given the challenges teachers were facing and continue to face during the pandemic, this was work that felt timely and important.”
For this study, a group of school system employees, including teachers, principals, classroom and school support and school staff, completed a freely available four-week smartphone-based meditation app called Healthy Minds Program (HMP) designed to train key components of well-being: awareness, connection, insight and purpose.