Daily teachers are confronted with challenging child behaviors that provoke their emotional reactivity and result in stress that may affect the classroom climate and the pupils’ learning (Emmer, 1994; Sutton & Wheatley, 2003). Although teachers’ emotionally-related behavior may have powerful effects on the social and emotional development of their pupils (Hamre & Pianta, 2001), few interventions address teachers’ emotional needs. The aim of the present study was to determine whether an intervention combining emotional awareness and concentration training promotes social and emotional competence in the teacher participants resulting in improvements in classroom climate and child learning behaviors. The sample included 21 preschool through grade 5 teachers composed of 13 from the intervention group and 8 from the control group (a sub-sample of 82 teachers recruited for a clinical trial). Intervention group teachers participated in Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) an 8-week 42-hour training that involves experiential exercises, didactic presentations and homework related to meditation and emotion. Training focuses on attention and concentration using attention-based meditation techniques, mindfulness, awareness and understanding of emotions in self and others, empathy training and compassion and loving-kindness training. Classrooms were assessed using two well-validated measures of classroom climate, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) (La Paro & Pianta, 2003) and the Classroom Atmosphere Rating Scale (CARS) (Solomon, Watson, Delucchi, Schaps, & Battistich, 1988). The training resulted in improved well-being among the teachers. The differences in behavior management, productivity, and students’ ability to handle transitions well, follow rules and solve problems had medium to large effect sizes that favored the trained group over the control group. Results suggest the possibility that the positive changes observed in the teachers may translate into improvements in classroom management promoting child learning behaviors.

Patricia (Tish) Jennings, MEd, PhD

University of Virginia

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee

Prof. Jennings is a 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 … MORE