Teacher Training

Mindfulness for Teachers


The Need for Mindfulness in the Classroom

Cultivating skills of mindfulness—the ability to stay focused on one’s present experience with non-judgmental awareness—can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn.

Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.

How does mindfulness do this? By training our minds consciously to become more aware of our inner and outer experience, and learning how to manage our emotions.

Teachers encounter stress at work and more so at some point during their first year. Stress is actually a major factor that can greatly affect many teachers early in their careers. It partly accounts for the the high levels of teacher absence and the n umber of teachers that leave the profession each year. Managing that stress is crucial for ensuring the success of a new teacher.

The American Psychological Association (APA) outlines some of the main challenges that new teachers face during their initial year. In addition to teaching, new teachers must:

  • Consistently plan new lessons and class activities
  • Handle issues with students and their parents
  • Manage (large) classrooms
  • Undergo performance evaluations from school heads and administrators
  • Work and get along with new colleagues

Many new teachers realize that teaching is an extremely demanding job and the resultant stress can manifest in a variety of ways.

Teachers dealing with overwhelming stress may become irritable,  exhausted and depressed. This may lead to a change in eating habits, an increase in drinking/smoking, social withdrawal, hypersensitivity and sleep problems, according to the APA.

Teachers play a central role in creating a classroom climate that  fosters  student learning and social-emotional well-being. However, teaching  can be stressful and managing classroom dynamics taxing. As a  profession, teaching is plagued by significant turnover, often attributed  to burnout, with  documented rates of teacher turnover rising in public schools over the past decade (Ingersoll, 2001; NCES, 2011).

Blue Lotus provides

1. In-service courses and meditation sessions for existing teachers.

2.  Courses to blend in with the Induction training of new students entering the profession.

The Background to our Involvement with Teacher Training


On Tuesday, 30 May 2023 I read  ( https://schoolsweek.co.uk) that a recent study chaired by the CEO of HeadSpace found that "The age-old and much-debated question of who has the most stressful job in the UK may have found its answer. The Headspace 2023 Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health report finds that the British population overwhelmingly deems education to be the most stressful career path, with a staggering 93 per cent of those in the profession feeling stressed at least once a week.

The education sector was one of eight sectors involved in this latest report, which analysed the state of workplace wellbeing. Education came out on top, beating even financial services and insurance for stressfulness. In that sector, 91 per cent experienced stress at least once a week. Those in the hospitality industry experience less stress than any of the sectors surveyed, with 17 per cent of these employees either experiencing no stress, or only rarely. This was followed closely by the retail sector, where 16 per cent of respondents say they rarely or never experience stress at work.

I am sure educators will not be shocked by this finding given the ongoing strike action and the evolution of teaching practices following the pandemic. Indeed, we’ve all heard the stories of classroom practitioners opting instead to work at Tesco’s, and we can see why. But the fact remains: this number is harrowing, and should serve as a wake-up call."

Our Response

Enlightened providers of teacher training have been aware of teacher stress and are already putting Mindfulness training firmly at the centre of the teacher training curriculum. One such provider, Stourport School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) approached us last year and asked us to provide relevant training over the full period of a teacher's initial training. We have just completed our first year of providing Mindfulness training on behalf of the Trust. Previously, Malcolm had provided Mindfulness training to the staff of one Primary School within the Trust. This was in the year before Covid. In 2022, Malcolm accepted an invitation to participate in the Initial Training of teachers.

The course was commended by OFSTED on a recent visit to SCITT's Training Centre.

Malcolm is well qualified to run these courses for teachers. With two degrees in education (B.Ed and B.Phil(Ed) from Chester and Birmingham Universities, respectively) and fifteen years classroom experience plus experience in teaching adults as a Director of Training in several companies, Malcolm brings a lifetime of experience to benefit new trainees. It was whilst he was working in China and then Korea twenty years ago that he discovered Buddhism and having completed a course with the Buddhist Society began practising meditation and living mindfully. Even after all these years, he states that he still has a beginners mind because living mindfully is not easy but it does help to alleviate stress and anxiety and prepares one for the emotional turbulence of the classroom environment.