A case study on teacher burn-out: On the edge, to stay or to leave
Lamei, L. 2021. A case study on teacher burn-out: On the edge, to stay or to leave -- In Proceedings: 17th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University
INTRODUCTION: The burnout syndrome is conceived as an individual's emotional exhaustion, dissatisfaction with personal accomplishments, and feeling depersonalization and work detachment (Maslach, 2003). Burnout can be inevitable for both students and teachers. It makes the students drop out and the teachers leave their profession. Burnout leads to emotional overextension, chronic fatigue, stress, cynicism, and negative attitudes. It diminishes executive functioning and memory, and causes problems in critical thinking, cognitive, and regulating emotions (Golkar et al., 2014; Durning et al., 2013). Individual and self-regulatory factors, such as self-efficacy, facilitate coping with the burnout syndrome and may protect individuals from negative outcomes of burnout (Brown, 2012). Self- efficacy is understood as the belief in one's competence to cope with challenges and successfully execute the behavior needed to produce a desired outcome and succeed. Generally, self-efficacious teachers experience less burnout. Teachers with higher sense of self-efficacy are more open to new ideas, more committed to teaching, and more resilient in the face of setbacks (Bandura, 1986; Brouwers & Tomic, 2000; Chwalisz et al., 1992; Shoji et al., 2015). PURPOSE: This research explores what impacted a teacher burnout and decision to quit. It also reflects what factors could encourage the teacher to stay. The study explains if higher levels of the teacher's sense of self-efficacy could help. METHODS: A mixed research method of qualitative and quantitative data analysis is used for a better understanding of the phenomenon. Triangulation adds validity and reliability to the case (Creswell & Poth, 2018). A semi-structured interview and two assessments of Maslach Burnout Inventory for Educators and Teacher's Sense of Efficacy Scale were administered and added quantitative information to the participant's personal feedback and the thematic analysis of the interview (qualitative data). The participant is in her 30s, with twelve years of experience as teacher and behavior analyst in public middle schools. Recently, she left her dream job of a teacher and works as a case manager in a non-profit special education center with children aged four to six. RESULTS: Different sources of data and research strategies provided comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of burnout and the factors that contributed to the teacher burnout and ultimately her resignation. It shows how the school administrators and parents could help her stay, but they failed to protect and support her, albeit it is a case study on one person's experience. The results highlight the importance of teacher's sense of self-efficacy in controlling and coping with burnout. Efficacy of the teacher results in their persistence, resilience, and aspiration when they face setbacks and difficulties. CONCLUSION: This study contributes to understanding of what factors may intensify or reduce burnout, how burnout could be minimized or controlled, and in what interventions. The research contributes to detecting potential system-wide problems and evaluating the role of the school and rules and regulations in protecting and supporting the teacher. The case explores the role of parents in making the teacher quit. This study also increases awareness of the factors that help teachers to stay energized and motivated especially through the difficulties that cause emotional exhaustion, cynicism, inefficiency, detachment, and lack of self-realization.
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Research completed in the Department of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational and School Psychology, College of Applied Studies