Taking care of teachers’ mental health, too

By: | July 9, 2019

In Virginia, students at one urban elementary school now practice mindfulness breathing techniques during morning announcements to settle themselves for the learning day ahead.

After a one-year pilot, students improved attendance, test scores and behavior, so leaders at Roanoke City Public Schools will expand the program. The mindfulness techniques will be introduced at four more schools in the 2019-20 school year, Superintendent Rita Bishop says.

“Our kids appear to be more centered, and they come to school on time so they don’t miss mindfulness,” Bishop says. “Mindfulness training belongs to you, and you can take it with you when you go home.”

The mindfulness techniques jibe with the trauma-informed practices teachers have been learning to help students cope with anxiety and other mental distress. In fact, the breathing techniques have bolstered teachers’ abilities to support their students, Bishop says.

“When you’re a teacher in an urban district and you’re dealing with the trauma and poverty, and the great pressures to help these kids succeed despite all odds, you need to take care of yourself, too,” she says.

Read main story: Educators attack anxiety in all grades