Teacher stress and burnout can negatively impact instructional quality and the quality of teacher-student relationships, two key factors in adolescents’ motivation and engagement in learning during middle school. Roeser and colleagues will examine whether mindfulness training (MT) can (a) reduce stress and burnout and increase coping and resilience among teachers; (b) improve teachers’ relationships with students and the emotional climate in the classroom for student learning; and (c) thereby cultivate adolescents’ academic motivation, feelings of belonging, and engagement in classroom learning. The mindfulness training is an eight-week program administered by certified trainers and designed for teachers. Each week, teachers will be trained on stress management, emotion regulation, and healthy relationships with others. As part of the training, teachers will be given an iPod Touch that runs an application to help them remember to practice mindfulness in daily life and track their progress. Investigators will use surveys of teacher stress and burnout, cognitive-behavioral measures of teacher executive function, biological measures of teacher stress, and observational measures of classroom climate. They will also conduct survey measures of adolescents’ perceptions of their teachers and self-reports of their own motivation and engagement in classrooms. Measures will be assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and six months. The sample will include 100 teachers who teach a core subject in the Portland Public School System. Half of the teachers will work in K–8 schools and the other half will work in middle schools. The students will be both economically and ethnically diverse. Teachers will be randomly assigned to receive the intervention immediately or following the study. The investigators will measure the fidelity of the implementation as well as the teacher, classroom, and student outcomes. The study will yield new information regarding whether or not teachers who receive mindfulness training feel less stress, foster classrooms that promote more emotionally supportive student-teacher relationships, and, consequently, have students who are more motivated and engaged during middle school.
Roeser and his colleagues will evaluate a mindfulness-based stress-reduction program for middle school teachers—a group characterized by high levels of job stress and burnout.