Impacts of a Mindfulness-Based Program on Teachers’ Forgiveness

Abstract

Objectives

Developing the skills to positively manage social transgressions is of particular salience to those in the teaching profession. The Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance (MBEB) program is a professional development program for K-12 teachers to build mindfulness and related prosocial skills such as empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. The present study assessed the acceptability of the MBEB program and tested whether MBEB was associated with changes in teachers’ forgiveness skills.

Methods

Participants included 171 teachers from 3 school districts who were randomized to the MBEB program or waitlist control group. Program attendance was recorded and MBEB teachers reported on the helpfulness of the forgiveness component. Five indices of forgiveness were assessed at pre-program, post-program, and in the fall of the subsequent school year (follow-up). A series of OLS regression models tested whether program condition was associated with the forgiveness outcomes at post-program and follow-up.

Results

MBEB teachers attended 90% of sessions, and 70% of MBEB teachers reported the forgiveness component to be helpful or very helpful. In comparison with control teachers, MBEB teachers reported improvements in their efficacy to forgive colleagues and students, tendency to forgive, and situation-specific forgiveness at post-program. Changes in MBEB teachers’ efficacy to forgive colleagues, tendency to forgive, and situation-specific forgiveness were sustained into the fall of the subsequent school year.

Conclusions

Significant and sustained improvements in MBEB teachers’ forgiveness skills indicate that teachers, who are actively engaged in a high-stress profession, can benefit from a mindfulness-based program aimed at cultivating prosocial qualities such as forgiveness.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank our colleagues Dr. Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, Dr. Andrew J. Mashburn, and Dr. Ellen Skinner. Thanks also to the participating school districts, administrators, teachers, students, and families, as well as the research assistants who contributed to these research projects. We are most grateful for your support and assistance.

Funding

This research was made possible through grants from the William T. Grant Foundation (#18107), the Spencer Foundation (#201400182), the Fetzer Institute, the Mind and Life Institute, the Impact Foundation, and Portland State University to the last author. During this work, the last author was supported by the Edna Bennett Pierce endowed chair in Care and Compassion at The Pennsylvania State University; the first author was supported by a training grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (R305B090007). Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the granting agencies.

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Contributions

SSB: Led data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript preparation. SC: Collaborated on data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript preparation. BAC: Collaborated on data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript preparation. CT: Collected data, collaborated on data analysis and interpretation. MC: Developed and implemented the MBEB program. RWR: Principal investigator, conceptualized study, oversaw data collection, provided guidance on data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript review. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert W. Roeser.

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The fifth author co-developed and implemented the program assessed in this study. The remaining authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board at Portland State University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Braun, S.S., Cho, S., Colaianne, B.A. et al. Impacts of a Mindfulness-Based Program on Teachers’ Forgiveness. Mindfulness 11, 1978–1992 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01413-7

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness-based intervention
  • Teachers
  • Forgiveness
  • Efficacy to forgive
  • Randomized controlled trial