According to a recent report, data from several states suggest that only about half of beginning principals will be in that same job after five years. Not only do they leave their beginning placement but many abandon their careers as principals altogether when they leave (Education Week, 2016). Factors contributing to the high burnout and turnover rates for beginning principals job stress, increased instructional responsibilities, changes in student demographics, support, politics, advancement opportunities and more (Sheppard, 2010). Record (2016) interviewed high school principals and provided an understanding of the physical and psychological stresses characteristic of the principal’s role which includes medical conditions, exhaustion, eating difficulties, anxiety, isolation, guilt and anger issues. The stress that the typical principal experiences the work environment, interpersonal relationships at work, personal relationships and job effectiveness. According to a recent study (Supakhan, 2013; Perry, the top five stressors of principals are: high expectations, required participation in nearly all school activities, evaluating and supervising staff, coping with students and their parents in disciplinary issues, and doing it all under a time deadline. The top five means of coping were to: discuss concerns, listen to music, think about retirement, work at school on the weekends or take work home. Effective coping strategies can assist principals addressing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced effectiveness; will reduce burnout and maintain efficacy. (Perry, 2016) These findings suggest principles require more comprehensive university preparation, support and training from their district superintendents, and public policy supporting their proper recruitment, training, support, and mentoring. Increasing role demands and decreasing decision latitude and autonomy are causing school principal burnout. Doctors Lu and Mulligan, professors in Educational Leadership Departments at San Jose State and California Polytechnic State Luis Obispo, provide Wellness and Mindfulness training for graduates in educational leadership preparing future principals for a changing scholastic world and have designed training sessions to teach educational leaders the benefits of mindfulness in educational settings. Training sessions include:
“School leadership during this Age of Accountability has become more stressful, more political, more complex, and more time-consuming” (Duke, Grogan, & Tucker, 2003, p. 212).
- Reviewing research and practical approaches to becoming a more mindful educator.
- Discussing how the practice of mindfulness fosters personal well-being and increases educational effectiveness.
- Learning the beneficial effects that meditation and other mindfulness tools have on the brain and body and applying techniques to reduce stress and build emotional resilience.
- Exploring concepts and practices of relational mindfulness to improve communication, and trust in the classroom.
- Introducing a mindfulness-based pedagogical paradigm based on self- awareness, conscious communication and compassion.
- Building familiarity with evidence-based tools that improve teaching outcomes, particularly in work with vulnerable, marginalized and underserved youth.
- Sharing strategies and practices for self-care that cultivate presence, calmness, and joy.
- Pre/post tests are administered to determine the effectiveness of training programs followed by qualitative feedback from principals. Six months after of the training, principals receive a follow-up survey to determine the degree to which they continue to employ the skills received in the training and to what degree they have observed in their stress levels.