Why do teachers need Mindfulness?

“All in all it’s just another brick in the Wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the Wall.”

These lines are from one of the infamous albums, The Wall recorded by Pink Floyd depicting the sad reality of an ‘authoritative’ relationship between the teacher and students where ‘sparing the rod meant spoiling the child’, existing during the 1950’s. The song agonized with the impact of such interactions on children’s emotions and their sense of empowerment. The ‘Wall’ symbolizing social and emotional isolation almost became a powerful agent of change ascertaining the need to make schools a safer place to be. Since then our schools have evolved and the regimental methods have also waned off. But what still remains constant is the teacher student relationship.

Although schools have done away with punitive methods of dealing with students, understanding the finer nuances of classroom dynamics forms the basis of the two way interaction. A healthy teacher student relationship is dependent on how a teacher responds to the students. Many a times a teacher might find himself/herself being caught up amidst a lot of corrections and deadlines to meet. In such a scenario how one responds to situations that might come up in the classroom could be influenced by the current frame of mind. A teacher might end up being reprimanding or over critical about certain mistakes made by students. Workload coupled with responsibilities at home might also make them respond in an undesirable manner towards others or make hasty decisions that could affect work as well as personal life. So a teacher’s psychological wellbeing is equally important to foster a safe and secure school climate.

Studies conducted worldwide have reported an upsurge of stress level in teachers. In a study conducted teachers were reported to have the highest level of occupational stress in Australia, the United Kingdom and America. Stress serves as the breeding ground for both physical and psychological concerns such as anxiety, low mood and adjustment difficulties. In order to deal effectively with day to day interactions and to combat stress the role of Mindfulness practices have been well established. Taking a Mindful break in between a busy day can help increase one’s productivity and help the person feel calmer. When one practices being Mindful they become aware of their current thoughts and emotions and with the help of this awareness an individual is able to respond to situations better and take more rational decisions.

When teachers practice Mindfulness it can help them enhance classroom interaction and management. Since mindfulness help a person respond rather than react, it would also help them tackle difficult situations in school effectively and also manage interaction with colleagues. One of the benefits of long term practice of Mindfulness is stress reduction. The impact of Mindfulness therefore resonates in one’s day to day interactions in life. And when we have Mindful teachers in school who are empathetic, understanding and helpful it transpires into the students. Having teachers who are positive as role models makes the school a happier place to be something which we all want for our children.