, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 130–142 | Cite as

Improving Teacher Awareness and Well-Being Through CARE: a Qualitative Analysis of the Underlying Mechanisms

  • Deborah L. Schussler
  • Patricia A. Jennings
  • Jennifer E. Sharp
  • Jennifer L. Frank


The heavy demands of teaching result in many teachers becoming alienated or burning out. Therefore, it is imperative to identify ways to support teachers’ internal capacities for managing stress and promoting well-being. Mindfulness is an approach with a growing foundation of empirical support in clinical as well as education settings. Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) is a mindfulness-based professional development program developed to improve teachers’ awareness and well-being and to enhance classroom learning environments. Using an explanatory design, we analyzed data from four focus groups each with three to eight teachers who participated in CARE to explore the mechanisms underlying the intervention effects. Specifically, we examined if/how the CARE intervention affected teachers’ awareness and analyzed why CARE affected particular aspects of teachers’ physical and emotional health and why some aspects were not affected. Results suggest that participants developed greater self-awareness, including somatic awareness and the need to practice self-care. Participants also improved their ability to become less emotionally reactive. However, participants were less likely to explicitly articulate an improvement in their teaching efficacy. Implications for professional development are discussed.


Burnout Teacher stress Teacher efficacy Mindfulness Professional development Teacher health 



Funds for the research reported in this article were provided by a grant from the US Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences #R305A090179. Thanks to the Garrison Institute for providing the support for the development of the CARE program. Also, special thanks to Christa Turksma and Richard Brown who developed CARE with one of the authors. Thanks to the Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University for the ongoing support of CARE and other social-emotional learning initiatives.

Integrity of Research and Reporting

This study received approval by the Institutional Review Board of Pennsylvania State University and was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards detailed therein.


All participants provided informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study reported on in this manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have competing interests with the funding agency that sponsored this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah L. Schussler
    • 1
  • Patricia A. Jennings
    • 2
  • Jennifer E. Sharp
    • 3
  • Jennifer L. Frank
    • 4
  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Northern Kentucky UniversityHighland HeightsUSA
  4. 4.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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