"Not enough leaders are equipped to deal with the stressors that are an inevitable side of leading... Within the practice of mindfulness, leaders can begin to learn another way of being that can change their interaction with the problems they are facing, and in so doing, directly impact their schools."
Dr. Caryn M. Wells, Mindfulness: How School Leaders Can Reduce Stress and Thrive on the Job
Dr. Wells is a professor of educational and teacher leadership who previously worked as a high school teacher, counselor, and principal. She gives a compelling argument for how mindfulness can contribute to self-care for frazzled school leaders, while simultaneously improving the atmosphere at their schools.
"Mindful leaders pause... instead of making snap judgments or overreacting to what is occurring...
Mindful leadership can be observed in a principal who stops to listen mindfully to an argument from a parent, student, or teacher, instead of dominating the conversation or injecting the next point...
It can be witnessed in a teacher leader who is patient and fully present in chairing a meeting or attending to a student in crisis."
As Wells emphasizes in the book, change will come from the actual practice of mindfulness, not from learning about it theoretically. Therefore, she includes Mindful Pauses at key points of the book, as well as an appendix with mindfulness practices for leaders, including:
- Mindful Listening;
- Awareness of Feelings;
- Cultivating Compassion and Self-Compassion; and
- Reducing Tension and Dealing with Conflict.
Mindfulness: How School Leaders Can Reduce Stress and Thrive on the Job offers practical advice for coping with the never-ending demands of school leadership in a way that's sustainable and compassionate.
reviewed by Catharine Hannay
A Lesson in Classroom Management (guest post by school leadership coach Pete Reilly)
interview with Renee Metty, the principal of a preschool specializing in mindfulness and social-emotional learning
9 Tips for Effective, Compassionate School Leadership (guest post by K-12 principal Katie Yezzi)
Mindfulness Activities for personal practice or classroom use
Self-Care Resources for educators and other helping professionals