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Stress and Release: Case Studies of Teacher Resilience Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention

Deborah L. Schussler is an associate professor of educational leadership, faculty affiliate of the Prevention Research Center, and faculty affiliate of the Rock Ethics Institute at Pennsylvania State University. Her research explores how schools function as organizations to meet the social and moral development of learners and how teachers acquire the necessary dispositions to meet the needs of all learners. Anna DeWeese is currently the office manager at Fuller Psychological and Family Services and previously served as the intervention coordinator at Fordham University for the CARE for Teachers NYC project. She also consults with mindfulness-based nonprofit organizations and supports the integration of mindfulness practices into areas such as education and mental health care. Damira Rasheed is a research associate in the Department of Psychology at Fordham University and a doctoral candidate in quantitative methods in educational and psychological research in the Department of Educational Psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research focuses on disparities in academic achievement among racial/ethnic minorities and identification of protective factors to promote positive educational and social-emotional outcomes for children in school. Anthony DeMauro is an instructor of education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Anthony’s research focuses on how teachers’ personal mindfulness practice influences their professional teaching practice such as the ability to build relationships with students, manage their classrooms, and meet students’ needs. Joshua Brown is an associate professor and director of the applied developmental psychology doctoral training program in the Department of Psychology at Fordham University. His research focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions with schools and teachers and in classroom settings to promote the social-emotional and academic success of children from diverse backgrounds and the well-being of the adult professionals who work with them on a daily basis. Mark Greenberg holds the Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters on the effects of prevention of mental health concerns and the promotion of well-being. Patricia A. Jennings is an associate professor of education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of social and emotional learning and mindfulness in education with a specific emphasis on teacher stress and how it affects the social and emotional context of the classroom.

This qualitative collective case study investigates elementary teachers’ experience with stress and the mechanisms of change related to developing resilience following a mindfulness-based intervention, Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE). Results suggest that the amount of stress teachers experience is less important than how they conceptualize their stress. Teachers who developed resilience exercised mindful awareness and nonreactivity coupled with a healthy distress tolerance and sense of efficacy. Other protective factors included community support, self-care, and sustained use of practices focused on emotion regulation. Combined, these capacities enabled teachers to respond more compassionately to their students. Implications for professional development that fosters teachers’ resilience are discussed.