90% Of Elementary School Teachers Are ‘Highly Stressed’

by Jerriann Sullivan
Image via Wavebreakmedia/ Getty Images

Elementary school teachers feel highly stressed

While we all know that teachers have one of the most stressful jobs of all, a new study shows how severe the problem really is: 93% of elementary school teachers feel highly stressed. We’re learning about the state of stress among teachers thanks to a new study from researchers at the University of Missouri. Their report was just published in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

“It’s no secret that teaching is a stressful profession. 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,” explained Keith Herman, professor in the MU College of Education and the study’s lead author. “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,” added.

The researchers analyzed 121 teachers who lead kindergarten to fourth-grade classes at nine elementary schools in an urban Midwestern school district. They studied teachers’ stress levels, coping abilities, and levels of burnout. Herman said the study showed that teachers with low levels of stress and high coping skills are practically nonexistent. We can’t say we’re too shocked as teachers across the country are forced to go on strike for a livable wage. Not to mention the fact that some teachers have to set up online campaigns to beg for supplies they wouldn’t otherwise receive, but desperately need. The researchers noted this situation in their study saying: “[Teachers] receive pressures from administrators, parents, and society at large to increase student outcomes while in many cases receiving fewer resources to do so.”

As members of society, whether a parent or not, we should care about the wellbeing of our teachers. They’re entrusted with shaping the minds of our next generation. And their stress level does play a negative role in kids’ education. Herman explained: “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 did outline ways we can help teachers and reduce their stress level. “We as a society need to consider methods that create nurturing school environments not just for students, but for the adults who work there,” Herman shared. “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.”

We should probably pay them livable wages and make sure school funding cover classroom supplies, too.