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Inner Resilience Program: Development of a Research Grant Proposal

Teachers face a number of stresses, such as heavy workloads and relative isolation from their colleagues, and teacher burnout is a well-known result. The Inner Resilience Program was established in 2002 in response to the impact of September 11, 2001, on educators and students in lower Manhattan. Soon it became clear that the program, which nurtures the social, emotional, and inner lives of teachers and students, could be very helpful to school communities throughout the city. 

Metis Associates collaborated with Inner Resilience to apply to the Fetzer Institute for a grant to support a rigorous study of the impact of the program.   The research project proposed by Inner Resilience and Metis was among a select few approved for funding.  The study builds on past research that has associated stress-reduction approaches, such as "mindfulness," with reduced depression and anxiety, and improved relationships, among teachers.  During the 2006–2007 school year, Metis selected a battery of instruments to best capture changes in participants. Nearly 60 New York City public school teachers in grades three to five were recruited and randomly assigned to a treatment or control group to examine the impact of the program on both the teachers and their students. Interventions included yoga classes, meetings, a retreat, and training in the use of a curriculum module for students. 

A number of positive outcomes were correlated with teachers' participation in the program, including reduced stress levels, increased levels of attention and mindfulness, and greater perceived relational trust among those in the treatment group.  Additionally, the third-grade students of treatment-group teachers perceived that they had significantly more autonomy and influence in their classes at the end of the school year than at the beginning, and analyses of student wellness indicated that the program had a significant, positive impact on reducing third- and fourth-grade students' frustration levels.  Moreover, the teachers who perceived that the treatment had the largest impact in their lives demonstrated greater reductions in negative coping mechanisms and increases in mindfulness and compassion than non-high-impact teachers. To read a full report of this evaluation, click here.