Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.

Department

Education

First Advisor

Nicole Ralston

LC Subjects

High school teachers; High school teaching; Personality and culture; Teaching--Philosophy

Abstract

The underlying impact of high school teachers’ mindfulness practices and philosophies in a classroom environment is investigated through a conceptual framework of self-identity, neuro-semantic language learning, attachment, interpersonal neurobiology, and social cognitive theories. The purpose of this study is to determine if trait mindfulness is related to teacher demographics and to triangulate trait data with classroom observations and teacher interviews. 48 high school teachers in an urban comprehensive high school completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) with demographics. Six ‘highly mindful’ teachers participated in a semi-structured interview investigating their educational philosophy and conceptualizations of mindfulness, identity, teacher-student relationships, analyzed with a phenomenological approach. Classroom observations were conducted in these six classrooms using an observation protocol for effective communicative thoughtfulness and triangulated with interview responses. Findings show that underrepresented minority teachers reported lower scores in the FFMQ facet Non-judgment of Inner Experience than white teachers. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) teachers reported lower scores than humanities teacher in the Describing facet of the FFMQ. The age of the teacher and number of years of teaching experience was only correlated with the Observing facet of the FFMQ. The ‘highly mindful’ teacher participants fostered respectful authoritative classrooms with the teachers viewing themselves as mentors who are not solely focused on academic outcomes, viewed intelligence as functional, identified that language frames ones’ thoughts and names perceptions, and defined mindfulness as a shift in perspective not necessitating formal training. This study adds to the burgeoning literature of mindfulness research, provides insight to the experience and philosophies of teachers who self-report higher levels of mindfulness, and suggests strategies to improve teacher mindfulness with positive social and emotional outcomes for teachers and students alike.

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Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

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