Mounting evidence suggests the pervasiveness of stress and insidiousness of burnout in the teaching profession (Blasé, 1986; Chubbuck & Zembylas, 2008; Eskridge & Coker, 1985; Larrivee, 2012; Spilt, Koomen, & Thijs, 2011; Vandenberghe & Huberman, 1999). Exposure to chronic stressors can have a negative cascading effect on a teacher’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While the inherent stressors of the profession cannot be avoided, this body of work explores how a mindfulness-based training program designed for teachers (Present Teacher Training) allows them to transform stress into opportunities for cultivating a healthy, authentic, and purpose-driven teacher Presence. A phenomenological exploration of what it means to be and become a mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy teacher through the stress inherent in the profession holds great potential for learning how to support a teacher’s holistic well-being-ness. This study utilized a post-intentional phenomenological research design (Vagle, 2018) to explore the cultivation of the phenomenon of teacher Presence through the integration of different phenomenological material. Vagle’s (2018) whole-part-whole analysis of the phenomenological material was used to capture provocations and pathic productions of the phenomenon. The primary research question in this post-intentional phenomenological exploration was: How might cultivating teacher Presence take shape in mindfulness work for teachers? The three primary “pathic productions” that were produced and explored in depth through this three paper dissertation are: (1) creating the micro-miracle moment: slowing down fast-paced teacher time to be present; (2) cultivating teacher self-trust and intuition in moments of uncertainty and risk; and (3) “burning in” to human service oriented work through the Infinite Well-Being Integration Model. This study illuminates the myriad ways a teacher’s being-ness in the present moment entangles with one’s trajectory of becoming one’s most authentic and healthy self through the professional practice of teaching. It is suggested that an integrated approach to teacher preparation and in-service professional development that supports the mind (i.e., mental agility), body (i.e., emotional agility), and spirit (i.e., awareness of self) to be beneficial in preparing teachers for the courageous and commendable inner and outer work they are called to engage.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2018. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Mark Vagle. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 247 pages.
Teaching as a Spiritual Practice: Cultivating Teacher Presence through Mindfulness, A Post-Intentional Phenomenological Exploration.
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