Using the Monday Cue to Reduce Teacher Stress in Baltimore City Public Schools

A teacher’s job doesn’t end after last period. Although their primary role is to educate, teachers are also responsible for shaping the character of their students. Such an important task can take a psychological toll and lead to feelings of pressure, stress, and anxiety. Knowing how to deal with these emotions is crucial to maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.

The Monday Campaigns collaborated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to develop a “DeStress Monday at School” program in Baltimore City Schools. The team developed a curriculum of weekly stress reduction practices for teachers as well corresponding practices for their students. The subject areas were identified based on feedback from teachers in focus groups. The curriculum was divided into five key areas:  starting the day, boosting energy, improving focus, calming the mind, and connecting with others. Each area had four different practices for teachers and students, which were delivered through weekly emails.

“Probably every day I would say I implemented some portion of it, whether the yoga or the breath or the eating, like we were talking about, little things.”

Anonymous Teacher

Participating in the nine-week pilot program were 50 teachers from three Baltimore City Schools. The core of the program was built around a weekly curriculum and email deployment, with resources sent out Sunday night to prepare teachers for the Monday lesson. Resources included videos, audio recordings, informational articles, and graphics overlaid with texts all related to different aspects of mindfulness such as meditation techniques, yoga positions, and deep breathing practices. Teachers were also directed to the Destress Monday homepage to access additional videos, tips, and practices.

A post-pilot survey from the Baltimore City Schools showed that the stress-reduction programming was a success, with 78 percent of respondents requesting a continuation of the program.

Participants cited improvements in work-related stress, sleep duration, and sleep quality, and an overwhelming number utilized the practices while finding them helpful.