Teachers’ dispositional mindfulness and the quality of their relationships with children in Head Start classrooms

Brandon D. Becker, Kathleen C. Gallagher, Robert C. Whitaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

The quality of teachers’ relationships with children is a key predictor of children's later social emotional competence and academic achievement. Interventions to increase mindfulness among teachers have focused primarily on the impacts on teachers’ subjective well-being, but not on the quality of their relationships with children. Furthermore, none of these interventions have involved preschool teachers. To consider the potential of mindfulness-based interventions to improve the quality of teachers’ relationships with preschool-aged children, we examined data from an online survey of 1001 classroom teachers in 37 Pennsylvania Head Start Programs. Using path analysis we investigated the association between teachers’ dispositional mindfulness and the quality of their relationships with children (conflict and closeness). We further examined whether this association was mediated by teacher depressive symptoms and moderated by perceived workplace stress. Higher levels of dispositional mindfulness among teachers were associated with higher quality relationships with children (less conflict and greater closeness). The association between greater dispositional mindfulness and less conflict was partially mediated by lower depressive symptoms, and the conditional direct effect of mindfulness on conflict was stronger when perceived workplace stress was lower. These findings suggest that preschool teachers who have higher levels of dispositional mindfulness may experience higher quality relationships with children in their classrooms. Interventions to increase levels of dispositional mindfulness among early childhood educators may improve their well-being along with the quality of their relationships with children, potentially impacting children's educational outcomes. The potential impacts of such interventions may be even stronger if structural and systemic changes are also made to reduce workplace stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-53
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Volume65
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Head Start
  • Mindfulness
  • Teacher-children relationships
  • Workplace stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Teachers’ dispositional mindfulness and the quality of their relationships with children in Head Start classrooms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this