Initial evidence indicates positive effects of mindfulness in schools, for both teachers and students. However, theoretical conceptualization and empirical evidence of the mechanisms underlying them is scarce.
We propose such a model for education, which draws on other fields of mindfulness research, especially psychology and neuroscience. Furthermore, we propose moving beyond the typical research focus on effects of mindfulness interventions in schools on students, and suggest a focus on the interpersonal contexts in which students operate and develop, in which teachers are key.
The theoretical model presented here aims to address some of these issues by presenting an integrative model focusing on the effects of teachers’ mindfulness in schools. This model—the mindful self in school relationships (MSSR)—points to teachers’ decreased self-centered psychological mode of processing as a core mechanism underlying the positive effects of teachers’ mindfulness, as it contributes to teachers’ caring capacities, such as emotion regulation, empathy, and compassion, which promote their aptitude to nurture effective relationships with students, facilitate teachers’ well-being and effectiveness, and thus affect students’ well-being and social and academic development.
The MSSR model can provide testable predictions about the mediating role of decreased self-centeredness (and the neural/cognitive activity associated with it) and enable a coherent understanding of psychological and interpersonal mechanisms underlying the effects of teachers’ mindfulness, from a systemic perspective. As such, it can be a helpful framework for understanding mindfulness effects in schools and delineate a relevant research agenda, potentially applicable for other organizations.