Research from the RAND Corporation found that teachers are feeling job-related stress at a rate about double that seen among working individuals in the United States. Many Hispanic/Latin teachers, teachers in the middle of their careers, and women in leadership positions report very low levels of happiness.
In January, researchers polled public school teachers, administrators, and working people on five different facets of their well-being: frequent job-related stress, ability to cope with job-related stress, burnout, symptoms of depression, and resilience to stressful events.
Almost half of the teachers surveyed claimed that one of the most stressful aspects of their jobs is helping children succeed academically. Race-based discrimination disproportionately affected teachers of color.
According to lead author and RAND policy researcher Elizabeth D. Steiner, “Two-thirds of the teachers we interviewed reported taking on extra responsibilities during the pandemic like covering classes or taking additional students in their own classrooms as the result of staff shortages,” she added.
According to the results of the study, teachers who have access to employer-sponsored mental health services report lower levels of work-related stress and better levels of resilience. Twenty percent of administrators and three-five percent of teachers said they had no knowledge of or didn’t have access to any employer-sponsored mental health services. “For many principals and teachers, available mental health supports were not helpful or convenient or were too limited to address their needs,” said Sy Doan, coauthor and an associate policy researcher at RAND. “District leaders should avoid the appearance of treating wellness as a superficial or short-term problem and offer mental health and well-being supports tailored to educators’ needs.”
It is encouraging to see that despite widespread reports of job-related stress and warning signs for educator well-being, survey results suggest that many educators are coping with their stress and enjoying their jobs. Researchers recommend that school and district leaders who haven’t prioritized the development of healthy adult-student connections should consider using the same tactics they use to promote positive student-staff interactions. System-level actions by district leaders to direct educators’ attention to their primary tasks of educating pupils and providing instructional leadership might relieve the strain on pandemic-weary administrators.
Citation: The State of the American Teacher and the American Principal, Elizabeth D. Steiner, Sy Doan, Allyson D. Gittens, Lucas Greer, Rebecca Ann Lawrence, Heather L. Schwartz, Rebecca L. Wolfe, Ashley Woo, Site: https://www.rand.org/education-and-labor/projects/state-of-the-american-teacher-and-the-american-principal.html
Featured Image Credit: Pep Montserrat for Education Week, https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/teachers-are-not-ok-even-though-we-need-them-to-be/2021/09