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Mindful : October 2015
perception of her—for example, “She’s just a little monster” or “She’s a holy terror.” This is a bad situation for everyone involved. Research has found that burned-out teachers are less likely to demonstrate sympathy and a caring attitude toward their students, have less tolerance for disruptive behavior, and are less dedicated to their work. Working in a state of burnout day after day can cause serious phys- ical and mental health problems, and stu- dents exposed to a burned-out teacher may be harmed. They may lose their interest and enthu- siasm for learning and may develop negative impressions of school and teachers in general. Considering that teachers rarely receive training on how to manage the social and emotional challenges of the classroom, it is not surprising that among teachers, attrition is on the rise. Unlike practitioners in many other professions, we teachers are constantly exposed to emotionally provocative situations in a class- room setting where we have limited options for self-reg ulation. When kids push our buttons, we have to manage our emotions so we can keep teaching. We must keep our cool and act professional under conditions that most people would find extremely difficult. If we don’t have the skills to manage our emotions effectively, we may try to suppress them, putting a strain on our stress response system. Teachers’ emotional exhaustion and class- room climate are closely related. As teachers become emotionally exhausted, the social and emotional climate of their classroom deterio- rates, creating a vicious cycle of negativity. Enhancing our social and emotional skills may prevent emotional distress and, in turn, the burnout associated with teaching. In particular, the intrapersonal dimensions of self-aware- ness and self-management build resilience and support our ability to cope with the emotional demands of teaching. This is where mindfulness plays an important role. Practicing mindful awareness can help teachers build these competencies. As we apply The movement portion of the class involves a series of yoga and balancing exercises and attentiveness to the body. Here, Marian leads the students in a body scan: “We come down to the ground, we slow everything down, and we’re lying on our backs on the mat. As we breathe we feel our breath coming into the body and moving out, and take awareness to each part of the body.” 52 mindful October 2015 education