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Mindfulness in the classroom: An exploration of teachers' perceptions of well-being in relation to mindfulness-based classroom practices

The intersection between mindfulness and well-being is particularly salient, given a nascent field of international study has grown out of interest in what mindfulness can offer to enhance human well-being. Despite well-being forming an integral part of the health and physical education learning area of the New Zealand curriculum, there is a surprising paucity of current research into teacher well-being in New Zealand, and an even greater scarcity of New Zealand based research into the potential impact of mindfulness-based practices on teacher and student well-being. This thesis aims to address this significant gap by exploring teachers’ perceptions of well-being in relation to mindfulness-based practices. Drawing upon hermeneutic phenomenology as a method of inquiry, this study reveals the essence of the ontological experiences of a group of nine New Zealand primary (elementary) school teachers as they explored the notion of well-being, considered the mindfulness construct in relation to their personal and professional well-being, interpreted and ultimately applied mindfulness principles to their classroom programmes. Data were collected in two phases over a 10 week period by way of teacher focus group meetings, in-class observations, de-briefings, and student focus group meetings. Researcher reflexivity is acknowledged through the use of autobiographical diary entries, woven throughout, as the super-ordinate themes of well-being and mindfulness are explored in relation to identity, authenticity, autonomy and ‘Being’. The findings have implications for educational theory, policy and practice. A key finding points to the development of a theory signifying the paradoxical nature of well-being as both an experience and a state of ‘Being’, and not necessarily as the result of being well. A second theory introduces the concept of authenonomy, suggesting the continuous interplay between authenticity and autonomy, when acknowledged and acted upon, may heighten teacher well-being. Finally, three broadly based categorisations of mindfulness classroom activities are presented, resulting in a framework created to assist teachers in implementing practices into their short and long term planning in manageable and creative ways. However, any such practices are not homogeneous, and need to be responsive to particular social and cultural contexts, and the character of students and schools.
Type of thesis
Mazza-Davies, L. L. (2015). Mindfulness in the classroom: An exploration of teachers’ perceptions of well-being in relation to mindfulness-based classroom practices (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9454
University of Waikato
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