Contemplative Science Goes to School: Improving the Context for Teaching and Learning in the Elementary School Years Through Contemplative Approaches

The classroom has been long recognized as an important context for development, particularly during the elementary school years. Optimal learning environments are physically and emotionally safe and provide students with a sense that their thoughts and feelings are valued and respected. This session will focus on the ways in which contemplative approaches can be utilized to improve the classroom context for teaching and learning. More specifically, the results from two recent empirical investigations examining the effectiveness of contemplative programs for teachers and for students will be presented. The two teacher programs that will be discussed include: (1) the CARE for Teachers program, and (2) the SMART in Education program. Both programs integrate mindfulness and emotion skill training to promote teachers’ well-being, efficacy, and mindfulness as a means of improving classroom climate, teacher-student relationships, and student academic and behavioral outcomes. The program for students, called MindUP, is a social and emotional learning curriculum that integrates mindfulness and positive psychology for elementary school students. In the first study, the effectiveness of the CARE program on teacher, classroom, and student outcomes was examined. In the second study, singular and joint effects of SMART in Education and MindUP were examined in relation to classroom context, student-teacher relationships, and student outcomes. Taken together, the results of these studies demonstrate the value of contemplative approaches to improving classroom learning environments and student outcomes. Implications for educational policy and school reform will be discussed.

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

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, PhD

University of British Columbia

Convening Faculty

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is an applied developmental psychologist and a professor in the Human Development, Learning, and Culture area in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at … MORE


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