Well-being and Mindfulness for Educators

Learn how to put on your oxygen mask by practicing mindfulness to reduce the risks of stress in your professional and personal life.  “Toxic stress starts as decreased productivity and creativity, escalating to more serious symptoms like frequent anxiety, dissociation, frustration, and, eventually, burnout. Roughly half a million U.S. teachers leave the profession each year – a turnover rate of over 20 percent.” ~Mindful Schools 

The average rate of reported burnout by new teachers is 2.5 years, however, the average rate of leaving the teaching profession as a new teacher is 5 years. So what happens between the reported burnout and when the teacher leaves 2.5 years later? Or what happens when the burned out teacher is a veteran teacher holding out for retirement? We all know that emotions can be contagious, especially in community settings. What happens to our young people exposed to these burned out, under supported teachers? Mindfulness helps address this by helping create space between stressors in order to better mentally and emotionally process experiences.

I understand the challenges of stress in education — I have experienced stress and burnout working in the field of education and know far too many colleagues who feel the same.  I have shared tears with too many fellow educators in recent years over work-related stress on a weekly basis.

Although I have resigned at the end of this school year (June 2017) as a speech-language therapist, I plan to offer mindfulness well-being programs for as many educators as I can reach through community classes and in-school programs to offer my support.  I have seen and experienced first-hand how positively impactful mindfulness training can be personally, and professionally. In my efforts to find “tools” to support my students, I found “mindfulness”. I ended up discovering the missing piece/peace and tools for my own life! Afterall, adults who grow up without learning the life skills and tools to support them when younger become adults without those tools! Consequently, life can be filled with stress and overwhelm because of certain relationships or life situations as parents, as educators, or any other role. (See our Adult Services and Programs!)

“I highly recommend “Mindful YOUniversity 101″ to anyone who is looking for practical, ready-to-use, research-backed tools for being healthy and resilient in our stress-filled world! Dee teaches with clarity and passion, not only about the important neuroscience behind mindfulness but HOW TO incorporate the practice into our busy lives. I have learned so much and wish the class was longer than an hour each week!” (~Lisa Arakaki, Occupational Therapist, LMUSD)

See Calendar and Adult Programs and Services for newest classes and events and SUBSCRIBE!  Additional “Testimonials for MK YOU”

“Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations in the country, but introducing organizational and individual interventions can help minimize the negative effects of teacher stress.”*

Key Findings from research on Teacher Stress and Health”*
  • Forty-six percent of teachers report high daily stress, which compromises their health, sleep, quality of life, and teaching performance.
  • When teachers are highly stressed, students show lower levels of both social adjustment and academic performance.
  • Interventions on the organizational or individual level, or those that reach both, can help reduce teacher stress by changing the culture and approach to teaching.
  • Programs for mentoring, workplace wellness, social emotional learning, and mindfulness are all proven to improve teacher well-being and student outcomes.

At Mindful Kindful YOUniversity the mission is to cultivate the healthy life skills & habits, attitudes, behaviors, relationships, and resilience for social-emotional well-being and success. With practice, mindfulness can help us to become aware of the present moment, both positive and negative, by observing thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, words spoken or to be spoken, actions, and the environment without reacting in an automatic or habitual way. Children soak in and model after the things we say as adults at home, in the classroom, and in our communities so adults have an essential role in modeling and being more mindful, kindful, and skillful! With practice, children will then learn to access the tools within their hearts and minds to handle any challenges with the same calm and mindfulness that they observed in us. What a beautiful legacy we can leave for our children. This is how each of us can contribute to a more compassionate, peaceful, and kinder world. 

From Congressman Tim Ryan’s book “Mindful Nation”: “Tish (Jennings) {author of Mindfulness for Teachers} was talking to me about how challenging it can be for teachers to face students with emotional difficulties…. Sometimes teachers can… begin to resent and reject the children because their own amygdala has gone rogue. But when they can interrupt that with a moment of mindfulness and return to awareness of the present moment, they may see what’s actually going on with the child…. We need to support our teachers with this kind of help. As Tish says, ‘If teachers can notice the emotion within their body, they can stop and make choices. Instead of seeing children with challenging behavior as problems, they can experience them as suffering human beings who need compassion. Over time, that will change how they lead their classrooms.’”

From Study shows mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout:

Teachers who practice “mindfulness” are better able to reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to a new (2013) study conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at UW–Madison’s Waisman Center.

While teachers play a critical role in nurturing children’s well-being, progress in addressing teacher stress has been elusive.

Stress and burnout among teachers is a major concern for school districts nationwide, affecting the quality of education and incurring increased costs in recruiting and sustaining teachers.

Researchers are finding that the benefits of mindfulness training benefits both emotional and physical well-being:

  • reduces stress, anxiety,
  • improves health,
  • improves focus, concentration, mental clarity,
  • improves sleep,
  • increases positive states,
  • increases compassion and acceptance in self and others,
  • reduces depression,
  • and more!

When we support a practice that supports all the nervous systems in a school building, when we do something that takes care of all of the adults AND all of the students in a community, the fabric and culture of that community begin to transform.

MK YOU Classes and Trainings

MK YOU offers mindfulness programs for educators, administrators, and all school staff district-wide using evidence-based practices to help reduce stress while cultivating the inner resources needed for well-being which, in turn, positively affects the students and co-workers. Skills will be cultivated for personal and professional development.

The delivery will be provided through ongoing professional development training, classes, consulting, and program initiatives:

  • to support personal overall well-being;
  • to deepen their understanding how to effectively incorporate mindful strategies and supports for their students’ emotional well-being, behavior, and learning;
  • to improve their relationships with their students;
  • and to improve classroom and school-wide climate using common language among the staff.

Each staff member will learn and practice how to integrate mindfulness into their existing curriculum, initiatives, and day to day agendas and experiences.

Extension programs may include approaches for bullying prevention/restorative practices; replacing detention with mindfulness practices both preventative and post-incident; after-school programs; and more.

Learn how to reduce the risks of stress in your personal and professional life. Contact Dee if you are interested in joining or hosting a class, training, workshop (see Calendar and Adult Services and Programs) or if you are interested in your class/school becoming a PILOT PROGRAM for Mindfulness for students, staff, and parents. Available in San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara county. Personal coaching also available.

Join our Central CA Coast Meetup Group:

Mindful Educators, Central Coast, CA


Additional related articles:

Can Mindfulness Make Us Better Teachers?


Don’t Quit: 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching

Do We Care for Our Teachers?

Four Things Schools Can Do to Keep Teachers Happy

Mindfulness for Teachers

Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers

Stopping Teacher Burnout

Study shows mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout

Teachers Tuning In

Three Simple Ways to Recover from Work-Related Stress

Want To Practice Mindfulness? Start At Work

Watch Your Brain at Work  (webcast)

When Teachers Take A Breath, Students Can Bloom

Workplace Stress: The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century