$3.5-Million Grant Helps Teachers Help Students
Improving the well being of teachers so they can better support their students is the goal of a $3.5-million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education.
The study will test a professional development program, called CARE for Teachers (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education), which was developed, in part, by Patricia Jennings, research assistant professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State and the current project's principal investigator.
According to Jennings, emotional stress is a growing problem among teachers.
“Teachers often have problems managing their behavior when they get upset by challenging student behaviors," said Jennings. "When this happens, they may resort to punitive and harsh responses, which can lead to power struggles with children and derail learning."
The goal of CARE is to enhance the ability of teachers to provide supportive and engaging environments that promote social-emotional well being and academic learning among students. Specifically, CARE provides to teachers emotion skills instruction; mindfulness/stress reduction practices to promote self-regulation of attention and non-judgmental awareness; and caring and listening practices to promote empathy and compassion. The purpose of this instruction is to enhance teachers' social and emotional competence, teaching efficacy and mindfulness, resulting in better-organized classrooms that provide both instructional and emotional support to students.
In the current project, Jennings and Mark Greenberg, director of the Prevention Research Center and a co-investigator of the project, will conduct a randomized controlled trial to determine the efficacy of CARE. Specifically, they will use teacher self-report questionnaires, observational ratings of teachers and classrooms, teacher reports on students and student school records to test the direct effects of the CARE program on teachers and classrooms as well as on students' behavior and academic achievement. The team will include approximately 256 teachers and approximately 20 students per teacher/classroom in 32 New York public elementary schools in its study.
"About 50 percent of teachers leave the profession after only five years, often because they are frustrated by the time they spend dealing with behavior problems in the classroom," said Jennings. "Through the CARE program, are helping teachers become more self-aware so they can better handle their students. We hope this intervention will lower the number of teachers leaving the profession and increase the number of positive role models in our education system."
CARE for Teachers is part of the Garrison Institute’s Initiative on Contemplation and Education (ICE) of which Jennings is a senior director. More information about the Garrison Institute is available at: www.garrisoninstitute.org/education.
Editors: Patricia Jennings can be reached at email@example.com or 814-863-8207. For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or firstname.lastname@example.org.