ORCID

http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4456-1603

Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)

Department

Education Specialties

First Advisor

Elizabeth Gil

Second Advisor

Randall F Clemens

Third Advisor

Mary Ellen Freeley

Abstract

Research suggests that the relationships students share with teachers have the power to enhance or hinder students’ learning and overall well-being. Thus, there is a critical need for educational leaders to implement systems that develop teachers’ abilities to connect with and positively support students. The focus of this phenomenological study was to explore a purposefully selected group of participants’ perceptions of how their mindfulness practices influence their work as secondary educators. Participants of the study included secondary educators from varied academic departments, varied years of teaching experience, and varied years engaged in mindfulness practice. Participants were drawn from two suburban, mid-sized secondary schools in the Northeastern region of the U.S. Both districts featured in the study can be characterized as high performing; consequently, students in these districts may endure significant pressure to succeed and face fierce competition for grades, placement in high-level courses, and, ultimately, admission to “top-tier” colleges and universities. In these high-stakes settings, the need for teacher support is perhaps even more critical to learning outcomes and overall student welfare.

Data collection points in this study included in-depth critical incident reports, phenomenological interviews, and a culminating focus group. The data were gathered, coded, analyzed, and interpreted in alignment with three research questions:

1. How do secondary educators perceive the origins of their mindfulness practices?

2. How do secondary educators perceive the connection between their contemporary mindfulness practice and their critical role as a secondary teacher?

3. What do secondary teachers perceive is the influence of mindfulness on school culture, and what barriers do they perceive in establishing mindful schools?

Understanding the influence of teacher mindfulness on teacher-student relationships, classroom climate, and school culture may have important implications for the realm of secondary education. Findings may inform educational leaders’ decisions regarding organizational change initiatives, including teacher preparation programs and district and school-wide teacher support plans.

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