A new study from the University of Nevada, Reno investigated some potential predictors of the psychological stress and high rate of burnout that early childhood special education teachers face in their daily work. . Teachers’ lack of academic resources and the high demands placed on them, the stress of their work, and their commitment (or lack of commitment) to their work have been identified as some of the predictors of increased psychological stress and professional burnout.
“School district administrators need this information,” said Hyun-Joo Jeon, professor of human development and family science at the College of Education and Human Development and co-author of the study. “One of the variables we looked at was school climate – whether a teacher collaborates with other people, administrators and principals. All of these things are really important to reduce their stress and to perform better in class.
The study looked at teachers’ professional resources, job demands and beliefs about engagement in their work and certain teaching methodologies, looking to see if any of these correlated with the level of stress experienced. by teachers. The authors found that creating a more collaborative atmosphere, encouraging feedback on curriculum-related decisions, and effective professional development programs all have the potential to reduce the burnout faced by educators in education. specialized.
Preparing teachers during their initial training on how to deal with the unique needs of children with disabilities during their own education finds them much less stressed when they find themselves in the classroom.
“In our human development and family science program, where they train early childhood educators, we offer some of these early childhood special education courses, which are specific to teachers, to better prepare them to serve all children they’re going to experience in their classroom,” said Lindsay Diamond, also a co-author of the study and an assistant professor of special education at the College of Education and Human Development.
The study suggests that reducing teacher stress brings a wide range of benefits to a school. Reducing stress and reducing burnout reduces staff turnover, easing pressure on schools in times of teacher shortages and thereby improving teaching.
“Teachers who are less stressed and have less or less burnout will be able to provide better instruction to children,” Diamond said. “They will feel more supported to be able to provide intensive interventions and develop relationships with families. At the end of the day, it’s the children who are affected by this when we have teachers coming in and out. If they are experiencing high levels of stress and are missing work because of it, then who is in the class? »
Diamond and Jeon saw an opportunity for this research when their two research interests had a perfect crossroads. Diamond specializes in early childhood special education and Jeon had previously conducted research on the psychological stress of general early childhood education teachers. The two realized that there was a lack of research that examined where these two areas overlap, and so a collaboration was born.
“It was a bridge where we could cross the field of early childhood special education because there isn’t a lot of research,” Diamond said. “Very few studies look at early childhood special education teachers specifically in their burnout, psychological stress, and how to support them.”