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This study explored Australian school teachers’ priorities for change within schools in order to support staff psychological well-being. We began by holding a focus group and, in corroborating with the existing literature on stressors reported by school teachers, identified seven key areas for change in schools that teachers thought would most support their well-being at work. An online survey was then conducted with teachers from across Australia (N = 960), who ranked each of these suggestions in order of importance. Results found that the most important needs for change according to teachers were smaller class sizes and improved measures for student behaviour management. These results offer insight into areas for organisational change that teachers think are most important for their own well-being. We discuss the findings in relation to psychological research as well as current issues within the Australian education sector.
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The Asia-Pacific Education
ISSN 0119-5646
Volume 26
Combined 3-4
Asia-Pacific Edu Res (2017) 26:117-126
DOI 10.1007/s40299-017-0332-7
Teachers’ Priorities for Change in
Australian Schools to Support Staff Well-
Adam Garrick, Anita S.Mak, Stuart
Cathcart, Peter C.Winwood, Arnold
B.Bakker & Kurt Lushington
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Teachers’ Priorities for Change in Australian Schools to Support
Staff Well-Being
Adam Garrick
Anita S. Mak
Stuart Cathcart
Peter C. Winwood
Arnold B. Bakker
Kurt Lushington
Published online: 3 April 2017
ÓDe La Salle University 2017
Abstract This study explored Australian school teachers’
priorities for change within schools in order to support staff
psychological well-being. We began by holding a focus
group and, in corroborating with the existing literature on
stressors reported by school teachers, identified seven key
areas for change in schools that teachers thought would
most support their well-being at work. An online survey
was then conducted with teachers from across Australia
(N=960), who ranked each of these suggestions in order
of importance. Results found that the most important needs
for change according to teachers were smaller class sizes
and improved measures for student behaviour manage-
ment. These results offer insight into areas for organisa-
tional change that teachers think are most important for
their own well-being. We discuss the findings in relation to
psychological research as well as current issues within the
Australian education sector.
Keywords Teachers Well-being Schools
Education department Organisational change
Teaching is recognised internationally as a high-stress
occupation and teacher stress is linked to reduced staff
performance (Yong and Yue 2007). In the Australian
education sector, concerning trends have been identified by
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Devel-
opment (OECD) including student results consistently
falling over the past decade (Tovey and Patty 2013).
Recent governments have attempted to address this through
measures such as national standardised testing and curric-
ula (Donnelly 2011), but the OECD has found that the most
important influences on student learning that are open to
policy influence are teacher-related factors (OECD 2005).
Teacher stress can have serious implications for the healthy
functioning of the individual, the school, and the quality of
education provided to students (Yong and Yue 2007).
Hence, it is vital for educational researchers to explore
ways to improve teacher mental well-being, and a poten-
tially useful source of information are teachers’ own per-
ceived priorities for change.
Australia has seen a consistent rise in the incidence of
teacher stress, including workers’ compensation cases
(ABCNews 2010a; Hiatt 2010). There is a significant body
of psychological research exploring sources of stress for
school teachers internationally, including managing student
discipline, workload, poor working conditions, and lack of
support from management (e.g. Timms et al. 2007; Yong
and Yue 2007). For teachers working in Australia, some of
the reasons for current increasing job stress include rapid
curriculum change, extra tension caused by notional liter-
acy and numeracy testing, and deteriorating student beha-
viour—including physical attacks on teachers (Hiatt 2010).
Making schools more attractive and supportive places to
work for staff will likely impact student learning outcomes.
A review by the Department of Education Queensland
found that difficulties in attracting and retaining quality
staff were impacting the state’s ability to meet its educa-
tional objectives for students (Masters 2010). Other
research has also found that higher job resources help
&Adam Garrick
Faculty of Health, Centre for Applied Psychology, University
of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, University
of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Department of Work and Organizational Psychology,
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Asia-Pacific Edu Res (2017) 26(3–4):117–126
DOI 10.1007/s40299-017-0332-7
Author's personal copy
teachers to be more immersed in their teaching and this has
positive flow-on effects for student performance (Bakker
While there is a large body of international and Aus-
tralian research aimed at identifying work-related stressors
for teachers (e.g. Easthope and Easthope 2007; Yong and
Yue 2007), there is a dearth of published research explor-
ing what types of interventions teachers themselves think
will help improve their work-related well-being. This is a
significant gap in the literature. With current nationwide
reviews of Australia’s education system, it is timely to
explore the opinions of teachers regarding what changes
they feel are most needed to support their well-being at
Teachers’ priorities for change in schools may vary
depending on demographic characteristics. For example,
Smithers and Robinson (2005) found that turnover is
concentrated in young teachers and older teachers
approaching retirement; young teachers often cite low
salary and personal circumstances as reasons for leaving,
while older leavers cite workload. For a better under-
standing of the needs of different cohorts within the
teaching workforce, it will be useful to compare teachers’
priorities for change based on such characteristics as gen-
der, time spent working at their school, and the state or
territory of their employment.
Preliminary Focus Group
We conducted a preliminary focus group with the aim of
identifying key changes within Australian schools that
teachers feel are most urgently required in order to support
their well-being. These qualitative data, interpreted within
the existing literature on teacher stressors, were then used
to guide the second part of the study, a quantitative large-
scale survey in which teachers ranked in order of impor-
tance the different areas for change identified in the focus
The focus group was conducted in Adelaide, South
Australia. We used a purposive sampling method to select
four teachers to participate in the focus group. The sample
included two males and two females, with work experience
levels of 2, 4, 11, and 28 years. All participants had worked
in primary and secondary schools, as well as schools in
both rural and metro environments (except for one partic-
ipant who had only worked in rural schools). While this is
too small to provide a representative sample of Australian
teachers, the focus group allowed us to obtain perspectives
from individuals with a variety of teaching experiences and
ranging from early to relatively late in their teaching
careers. The focus group followed a semi-structured format
and lasted for 90 min. The discussion was audio recorded
and later transcribed. The focus group identified a list of
seven areas for change as being most important for
improving teacher well-being: class sizes; funding for
school resources; managing student behaviour; salaries;
school-level management; training/professional develop-
ment; and workload. We will briefly summarise the focus
group’s comments and describe findings from the existing
literature regarding these seven areas and why they are
relevant as a means of promoting teacher mental well-
Class Sizes
The focus group discussed the need for smaller class sizes
in order for teachers to feel more effective in their roles.
Teachers expressed that with smaller classes they could
gain a greater sense of mastery, such as through increased
opportunities to tailor their lesson plans, pay individualised
attention to students and check student learning during
lessons. Participants acknowledged that smaller class sizes
also had positive flow-on effects such as reduced workload
(e.g. less marking and teacher–parent contact), as well as a
greater ability to manage student behaviour.
Disputes between state education departments and tea-
cher unions often centre on demands for smaller class sizes
(e.g. ABCNews 2009). Research has found that in smaller
classes, teachers can provide more focused and effective
teaching strategies with individual students and that student
behaviour problems are easier to contain (Wilson 2006).
However, critics of the push for smaller class sizes say that
there is little to no correlation between class size and stu-
dent performance, except for certain student groups such as
those with special needs (e.g. Chilcott 2012). It has also
been suggested that a reduction in class sizes could lower
the quality of teaching, because in the absence of extra
financial investment governments would be forced to lower
teacher salaries to fund the hiring of more teachers
(Creighton 2013).
Funding for School Resources
The focus group identified lack of funding for class
resources as a significant problem that can drain teacher
motivation and satisfaction. Two participants said that they
regularly pay for resources from their own salaries in order
to feel better about the teaching activities they are offering
students, but that this leads to a sense of resentment
towards the school for not providing such resources.
This concern is consistent with reports that deficits in
funding for school resources contribute to teacher stress
around inability to provide adequate educational
118 A. Garrick et al.
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opportunities for students and reduction of teacher aide
hours with associated increases in class disruption (Chilcott
2011). A large-scale survey of Australian schools found
that over 80% of schools needed to engage in fundraising
of some sort, with 61% of principals rating fundraising and
voluntary contributions as ‘‘very important’’ to the school
budget (AEU 2010).
Managing Student Behaviour
The focus group raised concerns around poor school-level
support in managing difficult student behaviour, contribut-
ing to a reduced sense of efficacy and lowered mood that
often carries over when the teacher returns home. Examples
included being unable to remove problematic students from
the classroom because no other staff are available to super-
vise the student/s, and teachers’ complaints about students
not being taken seriously by management.
Previous research has established that difficulties in
managing student behaviour is a significant stressor for
teachers. For example, teachers leave the profession at the
highest rate within their first five years of teaching, with the
most frequently cited reason being working with children
who have ‘‘complex behaviour’’ (McMillen 2013). In QLD
in 2012, state schools handed out approximately 20,000
student suspensions for physical misconduct and made
almost 100 incident reports involving violence or threats of
violence (Chilcott and Vogler 2013). Teachers report fear
related to students with severe behaviour disorders threat-
ening other students and staff not having training in how to
manage such behaviour (McMillen 2013). Some states
have seen recent legislative changes to attempt to manage
this, such as giving rights to principals to keep students in
detention on weekends or assign community service
(Chilcott and Vogler). Unions have suggested the potential
need for additional security features to be installed in
schools, such as security cameras or protective glass for
administration staff (Chilcott and Vogler).
The focus group voiced concerns around teacher salaries,
which were perceived as low relative to the amount of
education, responsibility, and workload required for the job
and that this impacted motivation. In recent years, there has
been frequent industrial action taken by teachers across all
Australian states and territories as teacher unions negotiate
higher salaries for staff (e.g. ABCNews 2010b). Research
has found that dissatisfaction with pay negatively impacts
teachers’ perceptions of their own performance (Alam
and Farid 2011). Low teacher salaries in Australia have
also been criticised as a contributor to lower teacher
quality, as higher-performing school graduates feel less
incentivised to pursue a career in education (Ingvarson
2016). Starting salaries for teachers in Australia is rela-
tively high compared to teachers in other countries, and is
also comparable to starting salaries of Australian new
graduates in other career fields of equivalent education
(Jamieson 2013; McGaw 2016). However, Australian tea-
cher salary progression is unfavourable compared to other
professions (the top of the pay scale is only 1.4 times the
starting salary) and is typically based on years of service
rather than performance (McGaw). Australian teachers
reach the maximum salary step within a decade, compared
to other nations which might take up to 45 years, and this
pay ceiling can dissuade teachers to stay in the profession
(Ricci 2015).
School-Level Management
The focus group identified the importance of school man-
agement teams for staff morale and personal motivation at
work. Concerns were raised around common problematic
practices within school management, including lack of
positive feedback to staff, difficulty in having direct access
to speak with management, and a perceived priority on
performance outcomes over staff well-being.
A report from the Grattan Institute stated that teachers
think school management does not recognise or reward
effective and innovative teaching (Jensen 2010). A study
with Tasmanian teachers found that staff feel stronger
pressure in recent years to conform to the values or ideas of
principals due to fear of being marginalised, and a sense
that school administration place their allegiance with the
education department rather than their own school and staff
(Easthope and Easthope 2007). Teachers have expressed a
desire for administration to offer more care and support to
staff, and to be more active in communicating staff feed-
back around issues such as rapid curriculum change to
education departments (Easthope and Easthope). Teachers
have also expressed dissatisfaction with school manage-
ment creating unreasonable levels of work demands with-
out providing the necessary resources for staff to
effectively complete tasks, which may erode an individ-
ual’s sense of mastery and increase exhaustion (Timms
et al. 2007).
Training/Professional Development
Focus group participants raised issues around training that
they thought required change, including a lack of relevant
training opportunities to choose from and needing to go to
Teachers’ Priorities for Change in Australian Schools to Support Staff Well-Being 119
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training on weekends or holidays because staff are unable
to take time off from regular classes. Research findings
show that opportunities for professional development are
important for sustaining and improving levels of work
engagement among staff (Bakker and Bal 2010). However,
professional development for teachers in Australia has
been described as inconsistent and ‘‘largely neglected’’,
particularly for new teachers adjusting to their role (Fer-
guson-Patrick 2011). It has been criticised as too pre-
scriptive and not trusting teachers to identify their own
professional training needs (Comber et al. 2004), which is
problematic given the strong correlations between teacher
self-efficacy and burnout (Skaalvik and Skaalvik 2010).
The focus group discussion commented on the unreason-
ably high workload required as a teacher, and expressed
that this can leave them feeling exhausted, stressed, and
time-pressured. The participants pointed out that their
school days are often so tightly scheduled that they may not
have time to eat lunch, and they regularly engage in unpaid
work-related activity outside of work hours (e.g. lesson
preparation and marking).
The literature indicates that Australian teachers report
their workload to be increasing every year, which will
likely lead to increasing burnout and health problems
within the teaching workforce (AEU 2010; Dorman 2003).
Over one-third of Australian teachers spend over 50 h per
week on school-related activities (AEU 2010). A report by
the Queensland Independent Education Union (QUIEU
2005) concluded that teachers are experiencing increased
content of jobs, less time for rest breaks, deadline tight-
ening, and the concept of working until the job is done (e.g.
completing paperwork that is not factored into the hours of
the school day). A study by Timms et al. (2007) found that
teachers report workload to be the major source of dissat-
isfaction in their work environment and concluded that
current workloads are unsustainable.
The Main Study
This paper’s overall aim is to identify the priorities that
Australian teachers place on the areas most in need of
change within schools, and how these priorities might
differ based on teacher demographic characteristics. For
our main study, we conducted a cross-sectional online
survey study with a national sample of Australian school
teachers. We asked participants to rank in order of
importance each of the seven changes identified from the
preliminary focus group study. The survey also measured
participants’ gender, number of years spent teaching at
their current school, and the Australian state or territory of
their employment, as these factors may inform how chan-
ges can be tailored to address key concerns among different
The online survey was accessed 1136 times and completed
960 times. The sample included 237 males (25%) and 707
(75%) females, with mean age 46.0 years (SD =11.0).
Our sample appears representative of the national teaching
workforce, as a previous representative national survey
(N=2335) of teachers in Australia found a mean age of
43.1, with 30% of respondents being male and 70% female
(MCEETYA 2004). The mean length of employment at
participants’ current school was 7.0 years (SD =6.45).
The participants were based in 5 different states within
Australia: 594 from Western Australia (WA); 131 from the
Australian Capital Territory (ACT); 119 from New South
Wales (NSW); 79 from South Australia (SA); and 29 from
Tasmania (Tas). Table 1presents a summary of participant
demographics according to state.
The majority of participants worked in government-
owned schools (96.7%). Regarding job description, 75.7%
classified themselves as Teachers, 20% as Coordinators/
Executive Teachers, 2.9% as Deputy/Assistant Principals,
and 1.4% as Other. Regarding employment condition,
86.8% were permanent, 11.7% were contract, and 1.3%
were temporary relief teachers. Regarding work hours,
80.7% worked full-time, 15.7% worked at least half-time,
and 2.7% worked less than half-time.
The survey asked participants to rank options from a list of
seven changes that could be made in Australian schools, in
order of importance for supporting teacher mental well-
being. The survey question was developed by the authors
and was worded: ‘‘Please rank the following options in
order of which you believe would best assist in supporting
teacher mental well-being’’. Participants needed to drag-
and-drop items from the list in descending order from ‘‘1st
(most important)’’ to ‘‘7th (least important)’’. The seven
options presented included: ‘‘improved measures for
managing student behaviour’’, ‘‘reduced workload’’, ‘‘im-
proved school-level management’’, ‘‘improved opportuni-
ties for professional development’’, ‘‘higher salaries’’,
‘smaller class sizes’’, and ‘‘increased funding for school
resources’’. The survey also featured other measures
120 A. Garrick et al.
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including gender, state/territory, and years spent working at
their current school. Following data collection, we cate-
gorised years of work at current school into three levels
(\5, 5–15 and [15 years) for comparative purposes.
We gained ethical clearance for this study through the
relevant university procedures. We advertised the survey
website with permission through several Australian teacher
union newsletters and websites. Participants completed an
online anonymous cross-sectional survey by visiting a
website created by the authors. An information page was
presented prior to the survey questions. Inclusion criteria
were that participants were employed as a teacher or
member of school leadership in an Australian school at the
time of taking the survey. Another paper has previously
analysed other variables measured in this survey, to explore
teacher psychological injury (Garrick et al., 2014).
Figure 1presents the percentages of participants who
ranked each of the seven suggested changes as first or
second most important. ‘‘Smaller class sizes’’ was selected
as the most important change overall, with over half of the
sample (51.9%) ranking this option as the first or second
most important change. ‘‘Improved measures for managing
student behaviour’’ was the second most frequently chosen
option, ranked first or second by just under half of the
sample (47.2%). ‘‘Improved school-level management’’
and ‘‘reduced workload’’ were ranked first or second by
approximately 30% of the sample. ‘‘Increased funding for
school resources’’ and ‘‘higher salaries’’ were ranked first
or second by 21.2 and 15.5% of the sample, respectively.
The lowest ranked option was ‘‘improved opportunities for
professional development’’, with 5% of participants
selecting it as the first or second most important change.
Table 2includes percentages of the seven changes
ranked first or second most important, according to par-
ticipants’ (a) gender, (b) years of teaching at current
school, and (c) state or territory of their employment. We
conducted Chi-squared tests to identify if gender, years of
teaching experience, or state/territory were related to any
of the seven proposed changes being ranked as first or
second-highest priority. We used listwise deletion to han-
dle missing data, i.e. cases with one or more missing values
were removed from analyses. There was a significant
association between gender and prioritising change in
workload, v
(1) =9.19, p\.01, indicating that females
were more likely than males to rank workload as the first or
second priority for change. There was also a significant
association between gender and prioritising change in sal-
ary v
(1) =4.70, p=0.02, indicating that males were
more likely than females to rank ‘‘salary’’ first or second.
We did not find any significant association between priority
for change and years of teaching at one’s current school.
There was a significant association between state/terri-
tory of employment and ‘‘workload’’ as a priority for
change, v
(4) =18.57, p\.01, indicating that teachers
from NSW were less likely than the other states/territories
to rank workload as a first or second priority. There was
also a significant association between state/territory of
employment and ‘‘school-level management’’ as a change
priority, v
(4) =10.84, p=0.03. Regarding school-level
Table 1 Sample demographics according to state
State Gender Age (years) Years at current school
Male (%) Female (%) M SD M SD
Western Australia 25 75 45.95 0.44 7.39 0.26
Australian Capital Territory 24 76 43.12 0.96 4.69 0.47
New South Wales 19 81 47.50 1.06 6.56 2.23
South Australia 29 71 47.57 1.26 6.83 0.69
Tasmania 38 62 49.52 1.98 7.36 0.91
0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0%
Professional Development
Resource Funding
School Management
Student Behaviour
Class Sizes
Fig. 1 Priorities for change—percentage of teachers who ranked
each item of change as first or second most important (N=939)
[Each option ranked between 1 (most important) and 7 (least
important). Mean ranks: Class Sizes 2.8; Student Behaviour 3.0;
School Management 4.0; Workload 4.1; Resource Funding 4.0;
Salaries 5.0; Professional Development 5.2]
Teachers’ Priorities for Change in Australian Schools to Support Staff Well-Being 121
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management, none of the states/territories demonstrated a
significant difference individually (no standardised resid-
uals [±1.96), although SA and NSW appeared to con-
tribute the largest amount to the significant Chi-squared
test (standardised residuals -1.7 and 1.8, respectively).
This suggests that teachers from SA were less likely to
prioritise school-level management change, while teachers
from NSW were more likely to prioritise school-level
management change.
We conducted an online survey to measure Australian
school teachers’ priorities for changes that could be made
in schools to support staff mental well-being. Our results
showed that Australian teachers’ priorities for change were
relatively consistent across gender, years of experience,
and state/territory. Overall, teachers perceive smaller class
sizes as the most urgent change needed in schools, con-
sistent with the frequent strike action taken by Australian
teacher unions across the country pushing for fewer stu-
dents in classrooms (Maslen 2014). While not statistically
significant, our results indicate that this need for change is
most frequently endorsed by teachers from SA, WA, and
NSW (Table 2), which is in agreement with research
reporting that these three states have the largest class sizes
in Australia (AEU 2010). A large class may increase tea-
cher stress in several ways, such as making it more diffi-
cult to manage student behaviour and provide adequate
attention to all students, and increased assignment mark-
ing, parent interaction, and noise levels (French 1993).
This result highlights the importance for education
departments to reduce class sizes as a first priority in
supporting their teachers’ mental well-being. A recent
literature review has found that smaller class sizes are
related to improved student learning outcomes (Zyngier
2014); given Australia’s current decline in student per-
formance, policy changes targeting smaller classes appear
timely. Unfortunately, the current government has indi-
cated that it intends to increase class sizes (Maslen 2014),
which is likely to increase teacher stress and negatively
impact student learning outcomes.
Improved measures for managing student behaviour
was the second most frequently selected priority for
change, with almost one-half of participants choosing this
option as first or second-highest priority. Previous research
has found student behaviour difficulties to be an important
factor in why some teachers choose to leave the profession
(Barmby 2006). Behaviour management demands in
Australian schools have increased over recent years (Smith
2014), which may be related to reductions in funding for
teacher aides (Chilcott 2011), as well as a trend towards
Table 2 Priorities for change—percentage of teachers who ranked each option as first or second according to gender, years of teaching at current school, and state
Gender (N=923) Years teaching at current school (N=939) State/territory (N=931)
Male Female \5years 5–15years [15years ACT NSW SA Tas WA
Class sizes mean rank
51.3% 2.9 52.0% 2.8 49.7% 2.9 55.5% 2.6 49.1% 3.0 42.0% 3.1 49.1% 3.0 59.0% 2.6 48.3% 2.7 53.9% 2.8
Student behaviour mean rank
50.4% 2.9 45.7% 3.0 46.3% 3.0 48.4% 2.9 47.2% 3.0 46.6% 3.1 53.4% 2.8 46.2% 3.3 37.9% 3.2 46.6% 3.0
School management mean rank
30.6% 4.0 30.2% 4.0 30.8% 4.0 30.8% 3.9 28.7% 3.9 34.4% 3.9 39.7% 3.5 19.2% 4.4 27.6% 4.4 29.1% 4.0
Workload mean rank
21.1% 4.6 31.5% 3.9 31.0% 4.0 26.4% 4.3 25.9% 4.2 29.8% 4.0 13.8% 5.0 21.8% 4.1 37.9% 3.6 31.9% 4.0
Resource funding mean rank
20.3% 4.0 22.0% 3.9 19.7% 4.0 22.5% 3.9 23.1% 4.0 25.2% 3.8 20.7% 3.7 26.9% 3.9 24.1% 3.6 19.8% 4.1
Salaries mean rank
19.8% 4.5 13.9% 5.2 16.9% 4.9 13.5% 5.1 16.7% 4.9 18.3% 4.8 15.5% 5.3 21.8% 4.5 17.2% 5.2 14.0% 5.0
Professional development mean rank
6.5% 5.1 4.6% 5.2 5.6% 5.1 3.0% 5.2 9.3% 5.1 3.8% 5.4 7.8% 4.8 5.1% 5.3 6.9% 5.4 4.7% 5.1
Range: 1 (most important) to 7 (least important)
122 A. Garrick et al.
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‘inclusive’’ education. Inclusion policies are resulting in
more children with significant intellectual, physical, and
psychological difficulties being brought into mainstream
classrooms, without providing necessary resources or pro-
fessional development measures (McMillen 2013; Timms
et al. 2007). Our finding emphasises the need for school
management to support staff in managing student beha-
viour, such as by building behaviour management skills
through initial and continuing teacher education.
Improvements might also be achieved through investing in
more teacher aides, school counsellors, security equipment,
and cooperatively developing policies, support systems,
and student placement strategies with staff.
The next two most highly ranked options were
improved school-level management and reduced work-
load, which are likely related. Several factors have been
identified as critical for effective school management,
including placing reasonable demands on staff while
providing sufficient resources for task completion, effec-
tive evaluation of staff performance, and recognition of
quality teaching (Timms et al. 2007). Our findings indi-
cate that there is a need to provide further training and
potential assessment of school managers in Australia,
given that a large proportion of our sample endorsed
improved management as a high-priority change. School
management/leadership also plays an important role in
balancing teacher workload.
We found that almost one-third of our sample identified
reduced workload as their first or second priority for
change. Australian teachers face increasing workloads due
to factors including understaffing, expanding student–tea-
cher ratios, increased documentation, and more tasks
(particularly administrative) being added to the teacher’s
workday (Comber et al. 2004; Timms et al. 2007). The
high levels of non-paid work that teachers are required to
complete outside of work hours is detrimental to staff
mental health by reducing opportunities to detach from the
mental stress of work even after the school day has offi-
cially ended (Sonnentag and Kruel 2006; Timms et al.
2007). High workload is also related to decreased time
available for teachers to interact with each other at work, in
order to share ideas and support one another (Easthope and
Easthope 2007). Teachers also report feeling pressure to
engage in co-curricular work that is unpaid and time-con-
suming, with schools not taking these into consideration
when allocating extra responsibilities such as yard duty
(AEU 2010; Timms et al. 2007). Many teachers have
expressed worry that if they do not ‘‘volunteer’’ for extra
responsibilities, their opportunities for promotion would
diminish (Timms et al. 2007). We also found that female
teachers were more likely to identify workload as a high
priority for change. While our data do not indicate the
causal factors in this relationship, possible explanations
include greater workloads being placed on female teachers
or a tendency for female teachers to perceive workload as a
more salient factor for well-being.
Approximately one-fifth of our sample ranked increased
funding for school resources as the first or second priority
for change, demonstrating that a large proportion of Aus-
tralian teachers think that increased resource funding is
vital in supporting their well-being at work. This is con-
sistent with research that has found that 61% of Australian
school principals identified fundraising and voluntary
contributions to be ‘‘very important’’ to their school budget
(AEU 2010). The issue of Australian school funding is
complex and currently in a state of political uncertainty.
The Gonski report on school funding reform (commis-
sioned in 2010 and released in 2012) criticised the current
school funding model as lacking coherency and trans-
parency, and involving duplication of funding in some
areas (Gonski et al. 2011; News 2013). The report rec-
ommendations included an increase of $5bn in federal
funding to education and allocating additional resources to
schools according to the number of disadvantaged students.
These additional resources would have included hiring
additional teacher aides, which would likely have benefited
teacher well-being through greater support in student
management. However, the current federal government has
dismissed the recommendations made in the Gonski report
and is proposing another review of school funding (Don-
nelly 2013). This will delay or cancel implementation of
suggested improvements to school funding identified in the
Gonski report, along with the potential benefits for teacher
The two least-often prioritised changes were increased
salary and improved professional development. We found
that male teachers prioritised salary higher than female
teachers, which suggests that continuing to pursue higher
salaries for teachers will be important to try and improve
the current underrepresentation of male teachers in Aus-
tralian schools (Tovey 2013). Only five percent of our
sample ranked improved professional development as the
first or second most important change needed in schools,
although it is unclear whether this small number reflects
relative satisfaction with current levels of training or if
teachers feel it is less salient to their well-being. Previous
studies have found that collaborative continuing profes-
sional development is linked to increased teacher self-es-
teem, motivation, and confidence as well as student
learning outcomes (Bakker and Bal 2010; Cordingly et al.
2003). Hence, while efforts to continually develop and
improve professional development opportunities for
teachers will likely produce positive outcomes for staff and
students, our findings indicate that there are others areas in
teaching of greater priority with regards to school-level and
policy change.
Teachers’ Priorities for Change in Australian Schools to Support Staff Well-Being 123
Author's personal copy
Limitations and Future Research
Our preliminary focus group was small (N=4),
although previous literature on focus group methodology
has indicated that this is an acceptable size (Kitzinger
1995). Not all Australian states/territories were repre-
sented in our sample and those that were measured had
uneven numbers of participants. In addition, we were
also unable to locate any material that provided com-
prehensive comparisons between the teaching conditions
of different Australian states, thus limiting our ability to
make comparisons of state-level policies relating to
teachers’ priorities for change. Owing to the method of
advertisement used for the online survey, the majority of
participants worked in government schools, and hence no
meaningful comparisons can be drawn between the
opinions of staff working in government and private
schools. Finally, there is likely considerable overlap
between the seven areas for change that participants
were asked to rank. For example, larger class sizes likely
increase issues related to student behaviour management,
while school budget that is targeted at teaching resources
may reduce the budget available for hiring more teachers
to reduce class sizes.
Further qualitative research investigating specific areas
where funding is currently allocated and how this might be
shifted to address teachers’ concerns may help to elucidate
the most appropriate use of available resources. Addition-
ally, future research should investigate relationships
between the seven areas for change measured in this study
and psychological measures of work-related stress and
motivation. This would help to identify if differences in
these aspects of a teacher’s work environment produce
actual differences according to validated measures of well-
being. Our research identified broad areas for change that
teachers would like prioritised, although it is beyond the
scope of this paper to investigate specific ways in which
these should be implemented as government policy. Fur-
ther research is needed in each specific area of change to
elucidate practical means by which change can be actioned,
e.g. reviewing the current requirements and training for
school management personnel and identifying deficits and
methods to address these.
Research from Australia and internationally has identi-
fied similar relevant factors when exploring teacher stress
and well-being (e.g. Barmby 2006; Easthope and Easthope
2007). Hence, there may be some generalisability of our
findings to teachers working in countries other than Aus-
tralia. However, further work with different samples would
be needed to establish this, as the political, educational, and
occupational context that Australian teachers operate in
will presumably have many unique characteristics that may
result in a different set of priorities for change compared to
international samples.
Education outcomes in Australia have consistently fallen
relative to other OECD countries but there has been a lack
of attention paid to the potential strategy for improvement
that is most open to policy change influence—teacher-re-
lated factors. This study identified areas of change that
teachers themselves place the highest priority on when it
comes to staff well-being and found that smaller class sizes
and improved measures for student behaviour management
are considered to need the most urgent change. Further-
more, we found relative consistency in the priorities of
teachers across gender, years of experience, and location.
Easthope and Easthope (2007) comment that over the last
decade or so educational policy makers in Australia have
tried to force the education system to serve the economy as
its primary objective, which clashes with the ideology of
teachers who are concerned with the support of their stu-
dents. By considering the experiences and opinions of
teachers when devising policies and objectives for change
in Australian schools, education departments and school
management teams may be able to minimise losses of
investment in training due to stress-related staff turnover,
sick leave, and reduced productivity. Teacher stress and
well-being are subjective experiences, and so there is of
course no guarantee that psychological outcomes will
improve for the entire teaching workforce if organisational
changes at schools are made in line with teacher self-re-
ported priorities. However, this study adds to the literature
investigating various factors that likely contribute to the
overall mental well-being of the teacher population, and
uniquely, from the perspective of teachers themselves
around what types of interventions will be most helpful.
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... While organizational changes are needed to protect school teachers' psychological adjustment (Garrick et al., 2017), a school teacher's emotion regulation can play an important role in their psychological adjustment. A worker's ability to upregulate their own positive emotions through generating, enhancing, and maintaining positive emotional experience from positive events, termed savoring (Bryant, 2003), has been examined in a few at-risk occupational groups, such as journalists reporting critical events (Monteiro & Marques Pinto, 2017) and military personnel (Sytine et al., 2018). ...
... Of course, judgment should be used to not force savoring but rather prioritize it (Catalino et al., 2014). At the organizational level, savoring norms could be developed in schools as they are for other workplaces (Fritz & Taylor, 2022); however, a tailored approach would be needed which, for example, might acknowledge the stressors faced by teachers in their workplace that require organizational change (Garrick et al., 2017). Given that school teachers are likely to experience greater stress in the future, especially considering the stressors of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic (Flack et al., 2020), promoting and supporting school teacher psychological adjustment is more important than ever. ...
... Considering the many challenges and responsibilities teachers face, it is no wonder that teacher well-being and the factors impacting it are a rising research topic in the field of education [9], [10]. The definition of teacher well-being is still unresolved and can be looked at from different perspectives, with the more recent conceptualizations identifying two categories, subjective and objective well-being [11]. ...
Full-text available
Teachers play a significant role and face diverse challenges everyday, therefore escalating the research of teacher well-being and its factors, with leadership being one of them. This review aims to summarize the findings focusing on the differences and teacher’s perspectives on teacher well-being and transformational leadership in schools. The review consists of peer reviewed articles from 2012 to 2021, with kindergarten to high school teachers as participants. Several databases were used, which are Scopus, Science Direct, PsycInfo, World of Science (WoS) Journal, PubMed, SAGE journals, Education Resources Information Centre (ERIC), and Garuda. Articles were selected using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and 10 were included in the qualitative synthesis. Studies showed that transformational leadership positively correlated with teacher well-being. Research regarding the efficiency of transformational leadership’s each aspect in increasing teacher well-being can be interesting to study in the future.
... In the present study, all teachers indicated growth in their confidence to implement trauma-informed strategies following the training. Some teachers suggested a clear link between their confidence and their wellbeing, reinforcing the necessity of access to TICinformed professional development for both student and teacher wellbeing (e.g., Garrick et al., 2017). The findings suggest that trauma-informed approaches appear to be especially important in schools with student bodies that have dealt with substantial intergenerational trauma. ...
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Exposure to adverse and traumatic events in childhood has been found to lead to poorer academic and social-emotional outcomes in school settings. The psychological impact of exposure to such events, referred to as childhood trauma, has been identified as a key driver of these educational difficulties. First Nations students have been found to experience higher rates of childhood trauma compared to non-First Nations students, with historical and intergenerational adversity contributing to such difficulties. There are national guidelines in Australia for the use of trauma-informed care practices in schools to reduce the impact of childhood trauma on educational engagement. This pilot case study examines teachers' experiences in a regional school implementing trauma-informed practices with First Nations students. Findings highlight the complexities of balancing students' safety and belonging with teachers' professional and personal needs in sustaining trauma-informed practice. Implications for implementing trauma-informed education with First Nations communities are discussed.
... Sources of stress for school teachers include managing student discipline, high workloads, poor working conditions, and lack of support from school administrators [20,21]. A recent study of Australian teachers (N = 960) concluded that improving measures for managing student behaviour was among teachers' top priorities to improve their own well-being [22]. In line with this, negative student-teacher relationships are associated with lower occupational well-being among teachers [23]. ...
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Background Leadership is a valuable skill that can be taught in school, and which may have benefits within and beyond the classroom. Learning to Lead (L2L) is a student-led, primary school-based leadership program whereby older ‘ peer leaders’ deliver a fundamental movement skills (FMS) program to younger ‘ peers’ within their own school. Aim The aims of the study are to determine the efficacy of a peer-led FMS intervention on: (i) peer leaders’ (aged 10 to 12 years) leadership effectiveness (primary outcome), leadership self-efficacy, well-being, and time on-task in the classroom; (ii) peers’ (aged 8 to 10 years) physical activity levels, actual and perceived FMS competency, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular power, and executive functioning; and (iii) teachers’ (referred to as ‘ school champions ’) work-related stress and well-being. Method L2L will be evaluated using a two-arm parallel group cluster randomised controlled trial. Twenty schools located within a two-hour drive of the University of Newcastle, Australia will be recruited. We will recruit 80 students (40 peer leaders and 40 peers ) from each school ( N = 1,600). L2L will be implemented in three phases: Phase 1 – school champions’ training via a professional learning workshop; Phase 2 – school champions’ delivery of leadership lessons to the peer leaders ; and Phase 3 – peer leaders’ delivery of the FMS program to their younger peers . The FMS program, consisting of 12 x 30-minute lessons, will be delivered over the course of one school term (10 weeks). Study outcomes will be assessed at baseline (between mid-March to June, Terms 1 and 2), intervention end (mid-August to September, Term 3), and follow-up (November to mid-December, Term 4. This trial was prospectively registered on the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR); registration number: ACTRN12621000376842.
... According to Bakker et al. (2017), organizational climate is one of the important professional resources buffering the negative effects that teachers are exposed to due to teaching-related problems. Collaborative professional relationships that can improve the quality of teaching require a supportive culture and structure (Hargreaves & O'Connor, 2018). ...
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The main aim of efforts to improve teaching is to create conditions that are more supportive of student learning and social development. The most tangible output of teaching activities occurs during the teaching activities conducted in the classroom environment. It is therefore reasonable to focus on what happens in the classroom to improve teaching. The quality of interactions between students and teachers is affected by the emotional states of both parties. Positive emotions arising from teachers are an important factor in high-quality teaching experiences for both parties. Due to the enriching and affirming effects of teacher enthusiasm in classroom interactions, it is important to investigate the underlying processes. For that reason, this research was designed to investigate the effects of supportive and collaborative processes on teacher enthusiasm. As a result of this research, it was concluded that organizational values and practices that facilitate and encourage information exchange increase teacher enthusiasm. In this respect, investigating organizational processes that facilitate cooperation and positively affect the achievement of school goals may be beneficial in terms of increasing the effectiveness of schools.
... According to Bakker et al. (2017), organizational climate is one of the important professional resources buffering the negative effects that teachers are exposed to due to teaching-related problems. Collaborative professional relationships that can improve the quality of teaching require a supportive culture and structure (Hargreaves & O'Connor, 2018). ...
Full-text available
The main aim of efforts to improve teaching is to create conditions that are more supportive of student learning and social development. The most tangible output of teaching activities occurs during the teaching activities conducted in the classroom environment. It is therefore reasonable to focus on what happens in the classroom to improve teaching. The quality of interactions between students and teachers is affected by the emotional states of both parties. Positive emotions arising from teachers are an important factor in high-quality teaching experiences for both parties. Due to the enriching and affirming effects of teacher enthusiasm in classroom interactions, it is important to investigate the underlying processes. For that reason, this research was designed to investigate the effects of supportive and collaborative processes on teacher enthusiasm. As a result of this research, it was concluded that organizational values and practices that facilitate and encourage information exchange increase teacher enthusiasm. In this respect, investigating organizational processes that facilitate cooperation and positively affect the achievement of school goals may be beneficial in terms of increasing the effectiveness of schools.
... This collaborative approach by the team as they settled into online learning also has the benefit of reduced workload: 'I think that alleviated a lot of workload and a lot of stress'. This workload decrease is important, as extra hours worked by teachers are 'detrimental to staff mental health' ( Garrick et al., 2017 ). Both Chloe and Rebecca also coped by reducing their workload as they could shut down their computers when they chose. ...
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Approximately one quarter of all teachers experience feelings of stress throughout their careers, for many this leads to emotional exhaustion and burnout. In this article we present a case study that explores the wellbeing of three teaching staff from an Australian Primary School, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping devised by Lazarus and Folkman was used as the framework to interpret this group of experiences. The findings indicated that the additional stress induced by fear of the ‘unknown’ imposed by the pandemic further intensified the emotional toll experienced by participants. These emotional responses included feelings of guilt about their providing the best education for students, anxiety about the unknown implications on schooling and frustration at the lack of communication and inconsistent decision making by people holding leadership positions. Despite this, these teaching staff shared many positive strategies for coping and grow through the experience.
... Arguably, these policies have done little to address underlying inequalities, instead exacerbating them, as is evident in school socioeconomic segregation (Bonnor & Shepherd, 2017). Meanwhile, the salaries we pay teachers have fallen relative to other occupations (Leigh & Ryan, 2008), while teacher workload, stress, criticism, and turnover have increased considerably (Garrick et al., 2017). Policies that portray schools and teachers as failing do little more than serve as a distraction for real sources of difference (Downey & Condron, 2016). ...
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Improving educational performance, including narrowing equity gaps, is frequently touted as a matter of improving the quality of teachers in the lowest performing, often disadvantaged, schools. However, the assumption that teaching is of poorer quality in disadvantaged schools is largely unsubstantiated. Using the Quality Teaching Model of pedagogy, we observed 832 lessons in 193 New South Wales primary schools and found a small relationship between teaching quality and school-level advantage. However, when 174 teachers from across the school spectrum participated in Quality Teaching Rounds we found equivalent, and substantial, gains in teaching quality across all levels of school advantage. This result indicates that differences in teaching quality are less a reflection of teacher capabilities than of the challenging circumstances in disadvantaged schools. We argue that policies seeking more equitable achievement should address wider social inequities, rather than unfairly blaming teachers for being unable to level an unequal playing field.
Previous research into approaches to support the wellbeing of teachers have been informative in understanding the sources of stress and burnout, and, strategies to help teachers cope with the demands of the profession. However, less research has focused on approaches that promote wellbeing in a proactive and preventative way, a notion captured by the field of positive psychology. This study aimed to explore how school-based positive psychology interventions are delivered to foster teacher wellbeing, drawing on evidence from ten studies in a qualitative systematic review. The results indicated that interventions included mindfulness-based, multi-modal programs, and, gratitude interventions. All reported outcomes were positive, with some findings indicating that the structure of the interventions was as important to success as the content of the programs. Six common core elements were identified, including voluntary participation, the use of multiple methods, context-specific design, group format, professional instructors, and, weekly sessions. Based on the exisiting literature and an emphasis on common unifying findings, this review highlights the potential of positive psychology interventions in supporting teacher wellbeing by providing practical insights for schools, teacher educators, and, policymakers.
In recent years, teacher well-being has received increasing attention that has led to a plethora of empirical studies from various disciplines. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the clarification of the construct teacher well-being, add knowledge about the prevalence of teacher well-being and systematize predictors and outcomes of teacher well-being. A systematic review following the PRISMA-statement was applied to peer-reviewed papers published between the years 2000-2019 and a total of 98 studies were included in the final analysis. Heterogeneous approaches could be categorized into five distinct theoretical foundations. Empirical evidence did not confirm that teacher well-being is at risk. Among the variety of correlates and predictors of teacher well-being that could be categorized into general versus job-related categories on the individual or the contextual level, social relationships seem to play a pivotal role. Although empirical evidence regarding its outcomes is scarce, results suggest that teacher well-being influences teaching quality.
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Purpose – The present study seeks to elucidate observed mismatches with workload in teacher respondents to a survey exploring aspects of the work environment. Design/methodology/approach – This phase of the study constituted a pen and paper survey of 298 currently serving teachers in independent schools in Queensland, Australia. Measures used in the research included the Areas of Worklife Survey (AWLS), which identifies matches or mismatches between the worker and organization on six areas of worklife, the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI), and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). Findings – One sample t‐tests revealed respondents reported significantly higher matches in the control, community, fairness and values areas of work life than previously surveyed populations, whereas they reported no difference in reward, and significantly more mismatch with workload. Respondents reported significantly higher levels than previously established norms on the OLBI dimension of exhaustion, but similar levels of disengagement. Responses to the UWES revealed significantly higher dedication and absorption and lower vigor than previously established norms. In addition, respondents reported working long hours in order to fulfill all obligations. Expansion of the quantitative data with respondent comments indicated that teachers working independent schools in Queensland have reached a level of workload that is unsustainable and which constitutes a serious risk to their mental and physical health. Originality/value – This article pinpoints the many reasons why demands made on teachers have extended to a level which is making their work unsustainable and will be of interest to those involved in the teaching profession.
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In this study, we investigated the prevalence, severity, and organisational factors of risk for psychological injury in a national sample of Australian school teachers, using the Psychological Injury Risk Indicator. We predicted that teachers would report higher levels of risk for psychological injury if working in schools located in rural areas, with a low socioeconomic index, and low psychosocial safety climate. Teachers from across Australia (N = 960) completed an online survey that measured risk for psychological injury and relevant organisational factors. We found a high number of teachers (26%) whose responses showed high risk, indicating the need for professional intervention in order to avoid potentially debilitating psychological injury. Analyses also showed main effects for two organisational factors, indicating that teachers most at risk for psychological injury tended to be employed by schools with low psychosocial safety climate and in areas with a low socioeconomic index. These results highlight the severe levels of work-related psychological injury risk in the Australian teacher population, and the important role for school administration and education departments in maintaining a working environment that supports staff psychologically.
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The question of class size continues to attract the attention of educational policymakers and researchers alike. Australian politicians and their advisers, policy makers and political commentators agree that much of Australia's increased expenditure on education in the last 30 years has been 'wasted' on efforts to reduce class sizes. They conclude that funding is therefore not the problem in Australian education, arguing that extra funding has not led to improved academic results. Many scholars have found serious methodological issues with the existing reviews that make claims for the lack of educational and economic utility in reducing class sizes in schools. Significantly, the research supporting the current policy advice to both state and federal ministers of education is highly selective, and based on limited studies originating from the USA. This comprehensive review of 112 papers from 1979-2014 assesses whether these conclusions about the effect of smaller class sizes still hold. The review draws on a wider range of studies, starting with Australian research, but also includes similar education systems such as England, Canada, New Zealand and non-English speaking countries of Europe. The review assesses the different measures of class size and how they affect the results, and also whether other variables such as teaching methods are taken into account. Findings suggest that smaller class sizes in the first four years of school can have an important and lasting impact on student achievement, especially for children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities. This is particularly true when smaller classes are combined with appropriate teacher pedagogies suited to reduced student numbers. Suggested policy recommendations involve targeted funding for specific lessons and schools, combined with professional development of teachers. These measures may help to address the inequality of schooling and ameliorate the damage done by poverty, violence, inadequate child care and other factors to our children's learning outcomes. It would be reasonable to ask 'Why another paper on class size?' For most the issue seems to have been settled: smaller classes promote higher achievement, better attitudes, different instructional practices, and higher teacher satisfaction and morale. Technical criticisms of methodology …and less-substantiated criticisms of research …would not change the general interpretation of meta-analyses in this area (Bourke 1986, 558).
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Female primary school teachers are usually absent from debates about literacy theory and practice, teachers' professional development, significant policy changes and school reform. Typically they are positioned as the silent workers who passively translate the latest and of course best theory into practice, whatever that might be and despite what years of experience might tell them. Their accumulated knowledges and critical analysis, developed across careers, remain an untapped resource for the profession. In this paper five literacy educators, three primary school teachers and two university educators, all of whom have been teaching around thirty years, reflect on what constitutes professional development. The teachers examine their experiences of professional development in their particular school contexts - the problems with top-down, mandated professional development which has a managerial rather than educative function, the frustrations of trying to implement the experts' ideas without the resources, and the effects of devolved school management on teachers' work and learning. In contrast, they also explore their positive experiences of professional learning through being positioned as teacher researchers in a network of early and later career teachers engaged in a three-year research project investigating unequal literacy outcomes.
Teacher retention has long been recognised as a significant problem in many education systems, while retaining early career teachers is particularly problematic. Although a variety of interventions have been suggested to support beginning teachers, too little attention has been paid to the importance of enhancing their knowledge about pedagogy in the early years of teaching. This paper examines data from an action research study that explored the impact of cooperative learning pedagogy on the professional learning of early career teachers. It focuses on the experiences of two early career teachers, one in her first year of teaching and the other in her third year, who participated in professional development on cooperative learning. Classroom observations and teacher interviews are analysed to explore the teachers' implementation of the cooperative learning strategy, their understanding of the practice and its impact on their attitude to teaching. The paper argues that a focus on pedagogy was significant in enhancing these early career teachers' professional accomplishment, as well as maintaining their enthusiasm in the early years of teaching with implications for retaining quality teachers in the profession.
Research was conducted on the predictors of burnout in a sample of teachers in Queensland private schools. A total of 246 teachers responded to scales that assessed burnout, school and classroom environments, work pressure, role overload, role ambiguity, role conflict, teaching efficacy, external locus of control, and self-esteem. The Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to assess three facets of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment. An hypothesized model of burnout was tested in a LISREL analysis with post hoc modifications indicating that role overload, work pressure, classroom environment and self-esteem were predictors of emotional exhaustion. Depersonalisation was significantly related to emotional exhaustion, role conflict, self- esteem and school environment. Teaching efficacy, self-esteem and depersonalisation were predictors of personal accomplishment. In 1974, Freudenberger introduced the term burnout to describe the inability to function effectively in one's job as a consequence of prolonged and extensive job related stress. Since that time, incidences of, and research into stress and burnout have increased with popular emphasis on employees in the human services sector including social workers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, medical doctors and police officers (Jackson, Schwab, & Schuler, 1986; Maslach & Jackson, 1981). A common characteristic of these occupations is that the nature of the work can be highly emotional. For teachers, the potential for emotional stress is high since they work with classes of up to 35 students for long periods of time. The intensely relational nature of classrooms means that teachers are vulnerable to emotionally draining and discouraging experiences (Maslach & Leiter, 1999). Such experiences can lead to dysfunctional teacher behaviour with obvious implications for the teacher's well-being and student learning. This article reports the findings of a study of burnout in Queensland private school teachers. Specifically, the study investigated the influence of several hypothesized predictor variables. To provide a contextual basis for the research, background information on theoretical and empirical perspectives relating to this research is provided.
An increasing number of studies show that teachers have one of the most stressful occupations. Long-term work stress may lead to burnout, which gravely affects teachers' physical and mental health, lowers the quality of their work, and, in turn, impairs their students' physical and mental health and development and imperils the sound development of education. This article analyzes the harm done by teacher burnout, defines its causes, and suggests preventive strategies.
Examined the relationship between 223 elementary teachers' perceptions of class size (CLS) as stressful circumstance and the pupil–teacher ratios (PTRs) in their elementary schools. Three subgroups of Ss were identified: (1) rated CLS as a source of little or no stress (LNS), (2) rated CLS as a source of moderate amounts of stress, and (3) rated CLS as a source of quite a lot to extreme amounts of stress. No Ss in schools with PTRs below 15.1 reported high levels of stress associated with CLS. Ss who reported that CLS was a source of LNS taught in schools with smaller PTRs and reported less use of certain undesirable teaching behaviors. There were significant differences among the subgroup means on 3 of the 4 stress reaction factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)