Collective Mindfulness on Improving Instruction: A Survey of Washington State District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Russell, Kenneth Leo
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Mindfulness practices have shown to benefit the work of teachers, principals, and students, however less is known about mindfulness as it relates to district leaders working with teachers and principals to improve instruction. Current tools for assessing teacher improvement practices, instructional leadership of the principal, or mindfulness provide little specificity to describe mindful instructional improvement and leadership practices of teachers and principals. The study discusses development of two tools: the Teacher Improvement Practices and Sentiments (TIPS) and the Principal Resilience for Educator and Student Success (PRESS). The TIPS measures mindful teacher improvement practices, while the PRESS measures mindful instructional leadership practices of principals. Both surveys focus on preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and deference to expertise as they relate to six elements of instructional leadership: creating a culture, planning with data, aligning curriculum, improving instruction, engaging the community, and closing the gap. Data are analyzed from a representative statewide sample of district leaders, teachers, and principals in Washington State. The study found that district leaders and teachers viewed collectively mindful teacher beliefs and practices for improving instruction to be most associated with closing the achievement gap and least associated with creating a culture for the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Principals, on the other hand, viewed their own mindful instructional leadership to be most associated with engaging the community and least associated with planning with data. Nonparametric analysis also concluded that the alignment of district leader and faculty views on collectively mindful teacher beliefs and practices differed based on the years of experience for the central office administrator and did not differ based on the mindful instructional leadership of principals. Discussion and findings explore the use of the tools as part of district leader and principal professional growth as well as further research to examine the relationship between mindfulness and district-level instructional improvement efforts.