Master of Science
Jennifer Lucko, PhD
Matthew E. Davis, PhD
Katherine Lewis, PhD
This study seeks to identify the conditions for calmness within an educator's life and its impact on educators and students. Research shows that mindfulness practices can be implemented in the classroom and help students focus (Riner & Tanase, 2014). According to Kane (2018), implementing different practices and strategies of mindfulness can help regulate the internal and external stresses that happen daily. Currently, there is a lack of existing research on what educators do to calm themselves outside of the school day and how those practices impact their relationship with the students, helping students feel calm during school. Specifically, this study seeks to determine what practices educators use to calm themselves, what calmness is to the educators, and how it impacts student learning.
This mixed methods research with constructive and transformative worldviews explored the environmental practices of educators as it related to how they set the space for learning and creating the conditions for their own functional health. Six educational professionals who specialize in working with students with special needs completed surveys and participated in individual interviews. The school site where the educators work is a Title One school with a mostly low-socioeconomic student population. The educational professionals ranged from being in their first year to having worked in education for twenty-four years.
The data illuminated three major findings. First, creating boundaries and recognizing that, ultimately, teaching is also just a job proved to be important in creating healthier states for teachers to maintain balance in their lives and creating space for self-care routines. Secondly, it was identified how significant the state a teacher maintains impacts the experience of students and the way teachers can show up for their diverse needs. This second finding was noted in the in vivo theme of “It’s a Snowball Effect.” Lastly, the role of support proved critical to the health and well-being of educators, and how feeling supported is essential, especially when stressed.
The significance of this study points to the need for cultivating healthier environmental care to support educational professionals. This includes maintaining a quality of presence that best serves equitable and inclusive learning for students. When educators take care of themselves, the students will be calmer, creating a better learning atmosphere. When educators are not prepared for the day and are mentally exhausted, the school day will become hectic, and students will have a harder time learning.