Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you teaching is a stressful job. Not only do teachers need to manage a classroom full of children, they also have to handle administrative paperwork, parent emails, curriculum development, extracurricular responsibilities, and more. Studies show that up to a startling 50% of new teachers quit the profession within five years. With such high rates of stress and burnout, supporting the emotional wellbeing of teachers is essential.
While adding SEL curriculum to the classroom may seem like just one more responsibility, research proves it actually benefits teachers. Educators who practice mindfulness alongside their students are not only more effective in the classroom, they also experience better overall mental health.
Teaching SEL Helps Teachers Manage the Stress of the Job
While school is an ideal place for children to develop social-emotional skills, they are still learning and thus prone to emotional and behavioral outbursts. Teachers are thus responsible for handling the emotional needs of 25-30 students from diverse backgrounds at any given time. Teachers themselves must have high social-emotional skills in order to respond appropriately, manage their own stress in the classroom, and maintain long-term well-being in their profession.
Educators who implement SEL curriculum into their classroom and their lives will have better responses to student outbursts. When teachers develop healthy patterns of response to disruptive student behavior, it prevents them from internalizing the negative outbursts and behaviors happening in their classrooms. They also experience more self-compassion in response to how they managed a situation or lesson.
Teaching SEL Improves Student-Teacher Relationships
Teachers who practice mindfulness are more likely to respond to their students with empathy. Stern, angry responses from teachers can breed resentment in the children who receive them, whereas teachers who lead with compassion are more likely to gain the respect of their students. This compassion has tangible benefits, too—students of compassionate teachers tend to be more engaged in their own learning. Additionally, when teachers are vulnerable with their students about their own social-emotional learning, students have more compassion for their teachers.
Teaching SEL Makes Classrooms More Orderly
Last, but not least, teaching SEL will start to have a positive effect on student behavior in the classroom. Students who develop the five key SEL skills—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making—will behave better in class. When students learn how to control themselves and interact well with others, teachers can spend less time managing outbursts, and more time doing what they love: teaching.
How to Successfully Integrate SEL in the Classroom
Research has shown that if teachers themselves don’t practice the mindfulness they teach, their SEL attempts can actually worsen a child’s social and emotional development. That is why it is important for mindfulness educators to understand the benefit of what they are doing both for the children and for themselves.
Our SEL Program can help with this risk. Mindful Practices sends trained SEL coaches into classrooms to lead the mindfulness and movement activities for teachers and students alike with positive results. This provides genuine support for the development of mindfulness programs in each school, as both the educators and educated benefit from it.