The School of Education and Human Development Bookshelf: Mindfulness for Teachers

In this series, we interview a School of Education and Human Development faculty member about their latest book.

February 25, 2015

Tish JenningsMindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom
Patricia Jennings
Published February 2015
W.W.Norton & Company, Inc.

What is the central message of your book?

Mindfulness for Teachers, offers simple, ready-to-use, and evidence-proven mindfulness techniques to help teachers manage the stresses of the classroom, cultivate an exceptional learning environment, and revitalize both their teaching and their students’ learning. Drawing on research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and education, as well as the author’s extensive experience as a mindfulness practitioner, teacher, and scientist, it includes real-time, classroom exercises in mindfulness, emotional awareness, movement, listening and more.

Who should read this book?

Teachers of all grade levels from pre-K through high school will benefit from the valuable knowledge and skills presented in Mindfulness for Teachers. 

Why is there a particular need for this message?

Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, but also one of the most demanding. The social and emotional dynamics of a room full of children or adolescents can be intense and sometimes chaotic. Under pressure, some students become disruptive, distracted, and even defiant, and teachers may become anxious, frustrated, embarrassed, and hopeless.

Teachers are currently facing a crisis of morale due to the increasing job-related stress. Nearly 50% of the teaching workforce leaves the profession after five years. This book addresses this problem by providing practical, evidence-based tools to help them reduce the stress and to increase the enjoyment of teaching thereby supporting teachers’ ongoing commitment to the profession.

Mindfulness for Teachers bookcoverCan you share a particularly moving, anecdotal story from the book?

In this story, we see how a teacher’s own experience limited her ability to recognize what was happening with her “biggest behavior problem,” Monique.

Monique, a second grader, arrived late every day to Ms. Garcia’s class, disrupting the current lesson or activity already underway.  Increasing the disruption, Monica was embarrassed about her late arrival and as a result tended to act out being especially silly and loud.  Ms. Garcia responded with increased frustration and anger.

After a few days of a workshop where she learned to apply mindful awareness to her teaching, Ms. Garcia became curious about her strong negative reaction to Monique and realized that she had never asked Monique why she was late.  The next day, she inquired.  It turns out Monique’s mother worked nights and was sleeping during the morning hours, leaving Monique to get ready for school without any adult help or supervision.

Ms. Garcia’s reaction to Monique’s tardiness shifted immediately.  With further insight, Ms. Garcia also realized that her mother was particularly strict with her about tardiness, severely punishing her once for being tardy.  This experience inhibited Ms. Garcia’s ability to see Monique’s tardiness clearly.

Ms. Garcia’s recognition of her own assumptions, in addition to her honest conversations with Monique about her tardiness, allowed her to change her approach to Monique in the mornings.  Now, Ms. Garcia would welcome Monique, help get her settled and quickly engaged in the lesson, upon her arrival.  Feeling accepted, Monique, in turn, behaved better.