In a study done with 17 teachers, aged 34 to 65, and 400 elementary students a link was found between teacher stress and student stress.
Burnout in teachers was determined by the Maslatch Burnout Inventory for Teachers. For students, they used a saliva cortisol test a biological indicator of stress. It was found when that when teachers reported burnout, students suffered much higher levels of stress.
Burnout is often characterized by a lack of enthusiasm for one’s job, apathy, alienation and dissatisfaction. This comes as a result of long-term low level stress. This is certainly not conducive to good learning in the classroom.
While the study was inconclusive as to whether the teachers stress caused the students stress or the students stress caused the teacher stress, what is clear is that there is too much stress in the classroom! This can lead to all sorts of mental health problems and learning disabilities.
“It is clear from a number of recent research studies that teaching is one of the most stressful professions, and that teachers need adequate resources and support in their jobs in order to battle burnout and alleviate stress in the classroom,” said UBC education professor Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, the study’s co-author and director of HELP. “If we do not support teachers, we risk the collateral damage of students.” (emphasis mine) (http://news.ubc.ca/2016/06/27/ubc-study-finds-stress-contagion-amongst-students-and-teachers/)
We Can Fix This Stress and Burnout Now
This study, and others, make it clear that we need to support our classroom teachers to help them manage their stress and prevent burnout or it is going to adversely affect our children for a long time to come. We need more support now in our school systems, for both the classroom teacher and the student, or tragedy of this stress will simply get worse and our students will pay the price throughout their lives.