Date of Award

12-2019

Culminating Project Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.

Department

Educational Administration and Higher Education

College

School of Education

First Advisor

Kay Worner

Second Advisor

Plamen Miltenoff

Third Advisor

Roger Worner

Fourth Advisor

David Lund

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

mindfulness, meditation, stress, burnout, strategies, teacher

Abstract

Teaching is a high-risk profession considering the impact it has on a teacher’s mental health (McLean & Connor, 2015). Since work-related stress can lead to job burnout, it is important for teachers to develop effective coping strategies to alleviate the high degree of burnout in the teaching occupation (Steinhardt, Jaggars, Faulk, & Gloria, 2011). Numerous studies pointed out the effectiveness, the ease of implementation and the cost-effective factor of mindfulness techniques to address stress and potential burnout (Abenavoli, Harris, Katz, Jennings, & Greenberg, 2014; Roeser, Skinner, Beers, & Jennings, 2012; Stanley, 2011; Winzelberg & Luskin, 1999). Mindfulness techniques have been linked to decreased levels of distress and increased job satisfaction (Friedman, 2000; Hülsheger, Alberts, Feinholdt, & Lang, 2013; Roeser et al, 2013; Luken & Sammons, 2016).

The purpose of the study was to examine the level of stress reported by a select group of Minnesota elementary teachers and to determine their awareness and use of mindfulness strategies to mitigate their work-related stress. Additionally, the study examined teachers’ exposure to mindfulness strategies through training\professional development and their reported likelihood of using mindfulness strategies to reduce work-related stress. Select voluntary teachers reported their beliefs on the benefits, challenges, and recommendations for other teachers regarding the use of mindfulness strategies to reduce work-related stress.

Most study respondents, 82.9% (n = 208), reported that they either frequently or always experienced stress at work, illustrating a high stress level for this group of elementary school teachers. Of the 250 participants, 98.4% (n = 246) had at least some knowledge or awareness of mindfulness strategies while 14.4% (n = 36) reported using mindfulness strategies frequently to reduce their work-related stress.

According to all four voluntary teacher interview participants, they used mindfulness strategies to reduce their work-related stress and discussed mindfulness techniques they used in their classrooms with students; they all believed mindfulness was helpful in their classroom with their students and for themselves. Additionally, all four participants said they would recommend mindfulness strategies to other educators. Participants identified time as a barrier to their practice of mindfulness techniques. The study results indicated that district administrators and school leaders can increase retention and efficacy by seeking out ways to support teachers’ self-care and learning of mindfulness techniques.

Comments/Acknowledgements

I have learned so much throughout this process and there have been many helpful people along the way. Thank you to the excellent staff and professors in this program. I wish to thank my family, especially my mother and father Elizabeth and Paul Milne, for always being there for me and helping me stay motivated.

I dedicate my dissertation to Phyllis Johnson, my late grandmother. She has always been an inspiration to me who provided endless laughs, love, and support. She taught me that I can do and be anything. She was an extraordinary woman and I know she would have been proud to know that I reached my goal.

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