The first year of teaching can be extremely challenging. Novice teachers face a wide-range of worries and disappointments, which can sap motivation, and lead to burnout and exiting the profession. The current research seeks to design and evaluate contemplative exercises that curb this “burnout cascade” during the transition into teaching. We propose that a brief self-compassion training can reduce common, but debilitating, worries and improve self-efficacy, inner well-being, and commitment to the profession. This hypothesis will be tested in the context of a double-blind, placebo-controlled longitudinal field experiment with first-year teachers. Our intervention is brief (~30 minutes), freely available, and theoretically precise, enabling a critical test of the hypothesis that self-compassion is therapeutic in its own right (absent the reliance on prolonged meditation training or group sessions). Compared to the time and resource-intensive mindfulness training programs currently being tested with teachers, this approach targets teacher beliefs with a powerful, short, low-cost intervention. Should this intervention prove effective, it can become a scalable way to embed insights from contemplative traditions within teacher education programs.

Rebecca Nyquist Baelen

University of Pennsylvania

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Brian Galla

University of Pennsylvania

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