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Lots of teachers are super stressed out

High levels of job-related stress affect 93 percent of teachers, new research suggests, a greater percentage than previously thought.

Classrooms with highly stressed teachers tend to have the poorest student outcomes, including lower grades and frequent behavior problems.

“It’s no secret that teaching is a stressful profession,” says Keith Herman, professor in the University of Missouri’s College of Education. “However, when stress interferes with personal and emotional well-being at such a severe level, the relationships teachers have with students are likely to suffer, much like any relationship would in a high stress environment.”

Aside from training and general competence, one factor that can influence successful behavior interventions and classroom management is teacher stress and coping. Herman analyzed teacher profiles by level of stress, level of coping ability, and the level of burnout the teacher felt. He found that teachers with low levels of stress and high coping ability are few and far between.

“It’s troubling that only 7 percent of teachers experience low stress and feel they are getting the support they need to adequately cope with the stressors of their job,” Herman says. “Even more concerning is that these patterns of teacher stress are related to students’ success in school, both academically and behaviorally. For example, classrooms with highly stressed teachers have more instances of disruptive behaviors and lower levels of prosocial behaviors.”

The researchers suggest a few methods that might better support highly stressed teachers. For example, teachers could have access to screening processes that can identify a need for more support to avoid further stress and burnout.

Burnout may be contagious for newer teachers

Building initiatives and programs that promote mental health practices and overall health can be extremely beneficial for teachers. However, focusing on individual coping strategies is just a start to fighting the broader social contexts that influence teacher stress, Herman says.

“We as a society need to consider methods that create nurturing school environments not just for students, but for the adults who work there.

“This could mean finding ways for administrators, peers, and parents to have positive interactions with teachers, giving teachers the time and training to perform their jobs, and creating social networks of support so that teachers do not feel isolated.”

The findings appear in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

The Institute of Education Sciences Funding funded the study.

Source: University of Missouri

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