An exploration of the awareness, use and impact of self-compassion practices amongst UK teachers of adolescent students
Hannah Dunn and Dr Ceri Sims
Citation: Dunn, H., & Sims, C. (2022). An exploration of the awareness, use and impact of self-compassion practices amongst UK teachers of adolescent students. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 6, 13, 1-14. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-6-2022/volume-6-article-13/
Processing dates:Submitted 15 April 2022; Resubmitted 7 August 2022; Accepted 13; September 2022; Published 2 December 2022
Background: Teaching is a rewarding, yet stressful career choice, requiring mental flexibility, emotional agility, and relationship management. Positive Education pedagogy suggests that strategies can be used to buffer against the stress of teaching to increase subjective wellbeing. The use and development of self-compassion offers one route towards this.
Aim: This qualitative research aimed to explore and understand the interpersonal and intrapersonal gains that teachers experience through self-compassionate practice and how it impacts on their relationships with others in a school context.
Method: Semi-structured interviews took place with five experienced UK based teachers. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to identify potential themes before creating five central organising concepts with related sub-themes.
Results: The overarching themes identified were the need for personalised selfcompassion moments during a teaching day; the use of smart working practices to find the balance between effort and pay off in the classroom; experiencing narratives of toxic productivity which acted as a barrier to self compassion; the benefit of establishing social connection in the classroom as a route to self-compassion; and that
teaching through a pandemic was an opportunity for self-compassion development.
Discussion: The research adds to existing research by providing a nuanced view of self compassion understanding and use through a teaching lens. Practical suggestions for how this can be used to ameliorate burnout in teachers are given.
Keywords: self-compassion, teacher, education, thematic analysis, positive education, positive psychology
Hannah Dunn is Associate Lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University, School of Human and Social Sciences, High Wycombe, UK
Dr Ceri Sims is Associate Professor at Buckinghamshire New University, School of Human and Social Sciences, High Wycombe, UK