UBC Graduate Research

Stressors and Well-being of Educators Polok, Tammy; Samra, Balvinder; Stubbings, Tammy 2020-03

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Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	   Stressors and Well-being of Educators By Authors: Tammy Polok B. Ed, University of Alberta, 1997  Balvinder (Bobby) Samra B. Ed, Simon Fraser University, 1994  Tammy Stubbings B. GS, Simon Fraser University, 2001  A GRADUATING PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF EDUCATION in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Educational Administration and Leadership)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Vancouver)  March 2020Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	   Abstract  The role of well-being has become a topic circulating around the field of education over the last several years.  What constitutes well-being and how it is measured is open to discussion by many who are impacted by it.  According to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation’s most recent statistics (2013), 46% of teachers reported stress/mental-disorders and 611 BCTF members accessed health and wellness programs (on either short- or long-term disability).  The role that work-related stress plays on a teacher’s day-to-day activities and ability to complete their job effectively is, increasingly, a topic of conversation.  As educational leaders, our research group became interested in the topic in part because we noticed and experienced an increasing level of stress among ourselves and our colleagues.  While we began to explore the topic through discussions with colleagues and peers as well as reading literature, it was noted that teacher stress and its causes are often topics that are avoided.  For this reason, we wanted to learn about 1) the perceived stressors faced by elementary school teachers and how this might impact their effectiveness to perform their job and 2) what supports are available to deal with the stressors and what supports are still needed.   In order to attain the information we wanted to seek, our research team did a qualitative study that began with getting a BREB approval and permission to do research in our targeted school district.  The research method included sending a letter of invitation to all elementary school teachers in our targeted district.  The letter had a link in which all teachers could complete an anonymous questionnaire focusing on issues around well-being in education.  Teachers had one week to complete the questionnaire, and our team received 118 completed questionnaires Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	   	  from teachers with various backgrounds (including years of experience, grades taught, and enrolling or non-enrolling positions).   A number of key findings arose from our study; some we expected and some that surprised us: 1) Teachers want to be heard and are willing to share their thoughts and views on workplace stressors, which tells us the importance of the topic,  2) Teachers identified many stressors related to their day-to-day jobs, and as prevalent as these stressors were, we need to acknowledge that some of these are aspects of a teachers job that cannot be eliminated and 3) Teachers still believe they are making a positive difference despite the stressors identified.  As a research team, this gives us hope.    	  	     Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	   	  Preface This graduating paper is an original intellectual product of the authors Balvinder Samra, Tammy Stubbings, and Tammy Polok. The research questionnaire was covered by UBC Ethics Certificate number H19-03332. This graduating paper was submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education in the Faculty of Graduate Studies in Educational Administration and Leadership at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver).  Oversight for the planning and research was provided by Dr. Wendy Poole, Associate Professor, and Dr. Marilynne L. Waithman, Adjunct Professor. Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	   	  Acknowledgements The authors, Tammy Polok, Bobby Samra, and Tammy Stubbings, would like to acknowledge the following people who have helped them through the process of completing this graduate paper:   Many thanks to our professors for sharing their stories, perspective, and sense of humour throughout this program.   A special thank you to Dr. Wendy Poole and Dr. Marilynne Waithman for your continued guidance, ongoing support and shared wisdom.  Your positivity and feedback kept us going through the challenging times, and we truly appreciated all you gave.    Much appreciation to our cohort.  You provided support, feedback, much needed humour and laughter and, most importantly, friendships that we will carry with us beyond the program.    Thank you to the teachers who volunteered their time to respond so honestly to our questionnaire.  We truly appreciated the time you gave, your feedback and the dedication to your students.   Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	   	  Dedication Tammy Polok  I would like to dedicate this degree to my children, Noah and Krystina. Your support and encouragement made this last two years doable. Your cheerleading, extra snuggles, and understanding was so helpful.  I would also like to thank my mom, Ann Meyer. Without your support and encouragement I would not have been able to do this program. I am thankful for the time, love, and stepping into the parent role to help me and the kids is much appreciated.   I would also like to thank my research team, Bobby Samra and Tammy Stubbings. We met at the beginning of this program and I am fortunate to work with you and call you friends.  Bobby Samra   I would like to dedicate this research paper and degree to my family.  To my wife Sevina, I could not have completed this Masters journey without your push, encouragement and support.  Thank you for being my other half.  To my kids Harj, Suneil, and Jovene, you have always been my inspiration in all that I do.  You’ve always made me proud, and I wanted to do the same for you.  To my mom Baldish and my late dad Surjit, thank you for teaching me everything I needed to get to this point.   I would also like to give a huge thank you to my research team.  I had the absolute best teammates, and I so appreciate the friendship that overrode any hard work we went through.  I could not possibly have done this without “Tammy 1 and Tammy 2”.  I can sum up what you meant to me in one quote: “Impressive.  Most impressive” (Vader, 1980, Ep. V).   Tammy Stubbings   I would like to dedicate this Research Paper and degree to my husband, Ryan Stubbings, for always providing your support and a shoulder when needed, for taking on extra parenting and home tasks so I could balance both work and UBC, and even for your jokes and humour– you are and always will be my rock!  To my amazing kids, Evan and Katie, who were my cheerleaders throughout the program and provided me with extra hugs when needed and for their understanding when I missed bedtime or an activity because of class or homework.   You both are my ‘why’ for everything I do - I love you to the moon and back, Always and Forever, To infinity and Beyond! Thanks to my mom, Pat, for your ongoing love and support.  Thanks for always believing in me, even when I didn’t always believe in myself!   I would also like to thank Bobby Samra and Tammy Polok.  You two are amazing educators and people.  I would not have gotten through this without your  ongoing support, dedication, humour and calmness.  I couldn’t imagine doing this program and paper without you!   I am lucky to call you my team, but more importantly, I am lucky to call you both friends.Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   	  Table of Contents  1. Abstract  2. Preface  3. Acknowledgments  4. Dedication  5. Table of Content 6. Chapter 1: Introduction …………………………………………………………………  1   1.1 Purpose ………………………………………………………………………….  1 1.2 Personal Stories ………………………………………………………………… 3 1.3 Research Questions …………………………………………………………….  6  7. Chapter 2: Literature Review…………………………………………………………..   9   2.1 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………   9  2.2 What is Stress, Burnout and Well-being? Definition of Terms…………….   10  2.3 Where Did the Spark Go? Teacher Stress …………………………………… 12  2.4 Stressors, Factors, and Causes ………………………………………………..  13  2.5 Implications of Stress and Burnout …………………………………………..  16  2.6 Burnout or Attrition? ………………………………………………………….  17  2.7 A Path to Well-being …………………………………………………………..  18  2.8 Strategies to Promote and Maintain Well-being …………………………….  19  2.9 Gap in Literature ……………………………………………………………… 19  8. Chapter 3:  Research Methods and Designs ………………………………………….   21   3.1 Research Approach …........................................................................................  21  3.2 Setting …………………………………………………………………………    22  3.3 Participants …………………………………………………………………….  22  3.4 Data Collection and Analysis …………………………………………………   23 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	   	  	   3.5 Ethics ………………………………………………………………………..  24  3.6 Positionality of Authors ……………………………………………………. 25   3.7 Limitations ………………………………………………………………….. 26  9. Chapter 4: Results and Finding……………………………………………………..  28   4.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………  28  4.2 Data Collection……………………………………………………………..   28  4.3 Data Analysis……………………………………………………………….  30  4.4 Results and Findings ………………………………………………………  31  4.5 Perceived Work Stressors…………………………………………………   34  4.6 Impacts of Perceived Work Stressors ……………………………………   36  4.7 Coping Strategies………………………………………………………….    40  4.8 Teacher Burnout ………………………………………………………….    41  4.9 Supports ……………………………………………………………………   43  4.10 Summary …………………………………………………………………   44  10. Chapter 5: Conclusion ………………………. ………………….…………………. 46   5.1 Adminstrative Feedback …………………………………………………..    46  5.2 Supports for Teachers ……………………………………………………..   47  5.3 Reflections ………………………………………………………………….   48 11. References …………………………………………………………………………..   52 12. Apendix A: Survey Questions…................................................................................  56 Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   1	   Chapter One:  Introduction   The role of well-being has become a topic circulating around the field of education over the last several years.  What constitutes well-being and how it is measured is open to discussion by many who are impacted by it.  According to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation’s (BCTF) most recent (2013) statistics, 46% of teachers reported stress/mental-disorders and 611 BCTF members accessed health and wellness programs (on either short- or long-term disability) (BCTF, Income Security Dept., 2013).  The role that work-related stress plays on a teacher’s day-to-day activities and ability to complete their job effectively is, increasingly, a topic of conversation.  As Kelchtermans (2009) puts it, “Teacher stress and burnout are … resulting from the interactions between individual teachers and their work environment” (p.177).    There is a plethora of ways to explain stress and wellness, so these concepts can be tricky to concretely define.  As Miller notes in his article, “the use of the term wellness varies greatly from context to context, as it is a product of a rather complex formation process, a fact that makes a single definition of the term difficult” (2005, p. 84).  Lens and De Jesus (2009) reference Rudow’s belief that “the terms ‘burnout’ and ‘stress’… are used as synonyms” (p. 192).  In the mid-1970’s, the term ‘burnout’ was used “. . . to describe healthcare workers who were physically and psychologically depleted, [but it] is now commonly associated with human service professionals such as teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, physicians, and therapists” (Byrne, 2009, p.15).  After reviewing the literature, our group decided to use the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation’s definition of stress and wellness as this seems appropriate, given that our research focuses on teachers from this province.  According to the 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   2	  	  	  BCTF, wellness is defined as “an active life long process of becoming aware of choices and making decisions for a more balanced and fulfilling life” (BCTF, Income Security Dept., 2013). Many discussions about the day-to-day happenings in schools seem to consistently circle back to staff wellness and its impact on the teaching of students, school wide discussions, school goals, and the overall mood in schools.  As educational leaders, our research group became interested in the topic in part because we noticed and experienced an increasing level of stress among ourselves and our colleagues.  Our team also became increasingly interested in the topic of teacher stress and wellness as we noticed an increase in literature regarding the topic. While we began to explore the topic through discussions with peers and reading literature, it was noted that teacher stress and its causes are often topics that are avoided in conversations.    Questions that arose through our research team’s dialogue included: what are factors that lead to teacher stress and has teacher stress increased over the last several years?  We also began to wonder how stress impacts a teacher’s ability to complete their day-to-day job and if teachers are aware of supports available to them to help maintain their overall wellness.  Our research group noticed that staff wellness is impacted by a variety of situations and contexts.  These may include personality types, school culture, class dynamics, and support within the school.  Our team reflected and acknowledged that we each come to the topic from different perspectives and starting points.  Each group member has had varying personal and professional experiences with work related stress and how to maintain a sense of well-being.  This can influence our perspectives on the topic, as explained in our personal stories below.    	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   3	  	  	  Personal Stories: Tammy P.  My interest in our topic came from my professional work within my school building and my work with new teachers within my district.  Throughout my time at my former school, I noticed a shift in staff wellness over the years.  Some of the changes occurred when the school was downsizing and redefining itself and as staff adjusted to the changing dynamics.  The school downsizing occurred when a new school opened and we lost half of our population to the new school.  We happened to be the only school that contributed to the new school’s population. This decrease in population meant that the school had to rediscover what was important and what made the school an interesting place to work, learn, and play.  This took some time and staff team-building.  Another shift came when the school hosted a program for students with severe behaviour concerns and mental health challenges.  This impacted the staff and their wellness because they were learning how to work with these challenging students.  Many staff were nervous about working with children with such severe behavior.  As students in the program acted out, staff become increasingly stressed and unsure how to best support these special students.  I approached this situation from the parent and teacher aspect because I was able to offer some insight to what I had learned as a parent of a child with mental health challenges.  There were times I tried to help my colleagues to understand the children in the program.  My colleagues were not always open to hearing the viewpoint of the child or parent due to the stress they felt from the dramatic behavior displayed by the child.  My interest in wellness also came from my involvement in the district’s mentorship program.  As I spoke to new teachers and met with them regarding how to support them, it became apparent that many struggled with maintaining wellness.  Many of our new teachers 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   4	  	  	  struggle with how to balance the challenges of the job while focusing on their personal wellness. Through discussions with the new teachers, many stated that they were often the first ones at their buildings and usually the last ones to leave. My question to them became: what is one thing they did for themselves in a week to feel balanced?  It was surprising to hear that many were unsure they did this.  Many of the conversations and much of the coaching circled around maintaining balance and prioritizing. As Rankin notes in her book, “you need to take care of yourself for your sake but also for your students’ sake” (2017, p. 2).  Bobby  Being my first year at my current school, I heard that the grade 7 group was going to be very challenging.  In hindsight, that was an extremely accurate assessment.  In particular, there were three students who were seen as causing the most stress.  Nonetheless, through the year, I could see how those students were having an impact on the staff, whether they taught those students or not.  It got to the point that the teachers called a union meeting because some of them felt “unsafe” around these kids.  This really got me thinking about the impact that the challenging students and the staff members who expressed the most frustration were having on each other.  I wondered if the challenges presented by the students who were perceived to cause so much stress affected the work that educators were doing.  I also questioned whether the negative feelings that staff had about these kids was impacting how the students were being treated and taught.  I personally enjoyed the students and appreciated the improvement that they made.  I was quite proud of how far those students came by June, but I also wondered how much more we, as a staff, could have done for the children if we had more supports in place for the well-being of staff. 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   5	  	  	  Tammy S.  I have always been a ‘burn the candle at both ends’ educator.  I have always loved the job and everything that came with it.  I went in to teaching because I truly cared about the education and well-being of all my students.  Little did I know through my 18-year journey just how much certain aspects of the job would weigh me down, and how little I focused on my own well-being.  It was not until I needed to step away from my role in the district to take a leave of absence that I realized how many others in our profession were in the same situation or were heading in that direction without realizing it.  While on my personal journey, I thought about how my well-being and mood may have been impacting the staff I was working with, but also how it could have been impacting the students that I was working with.  When I was thinking of my reasons, it made me think about all of the signs I was missing in my own well-being, or the signs that I chose to ignore or had become immune to.  I started to ask myself reflective questions.  What was it exactly that caused my added stresses?  What was it that caused me to ignore my own well-being? Why did I choose to not focus on my health and well-being when I talked to my staff about ensuring they were focusing on taking care of themselves? It is through this reflection that I realized my interest in staff well-being and how we can be more proactive in supporting our staff before they reach the point of exhaustion and high levels of stress that could lead to a breakdown, but more importantly how our well-being has direct impact on the students that we work with each day.       	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   6	  	  	  Research Questions:  Many questions regarding our topic surfaced through our conversations about our own work environments but also our own personal stories (as seen above).  As we began to examine literature, we discovered a lack of Canadian data about teacher stress and well-being in the research.  This made us question why there is this limited data and whether it was less of a concern for Canadian educators or if there was just not enough data.    It became clear that the purpose of our research team’s study is to explore how elementary teachers in the Pegasus School District1 in British Columbia can have positive impacts on students by taking the first step of identifying their perceived work-related stresses and the state of their sense of well-being.  Having self-awareness of one’s needs is always beneficial and a necessary step in the process of addressing work-related wellness issues.  As Rankin (2017, p. 2) points out, “Take care of yourself first, or your students will lose you and all you have to offer them.”  Our team’s research allowed us to identify the significant stresses that teachers experience and their perceived impact on their effectiveness to perform their job (positively or negatively) through the results of an online questionnaire. Through the data collected, we identified factors that elementary teachers feel contribute to their work-related stress.  We also identified supports available to teachers, as well as identified areas for further development to help support and maintain wellness.  As a result of discussions, a review of the literature, and the development of our purpose statement, we answered the following research questions: 1. What are the perceived stressors in an elementary teacher’s job in the Pegasus School District? 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   7	  	  	  2. What role or impact does stress play in elementary teachers’ interactions with their colleagues and students?   3. What supports are offered and/or needed for teachers who are struggling with stress-related challenges to their wellness?  While there are so many factors that are important in the field of education, we realized that if one doesn’t have a positive work environment, and one’s staff is not healthy and feeling well, then everything else becomes less significant.  Before teachers can really focus on curriculum, academics, and the social-emotional development of students, our research team believes that educational leaders need to really look at how a school staff is doing.  Specifically, educational leaders need to explore how teachers are coping with the increased demands on their job.  These demands may be self-imposed; however, they may also be felt from parents, students, administrators, and colleagues.    In education today, our research team believes staff wellness has never been more important.  Research shows that there is an increasing number of teachers who are leaving the profession early in their careers.  Rankin (2017, p. xiv) notes that 40% to 50% of teachers leave the profession by their fifth year.  Our team believes that it is important to understand the concept of wellness and how leaders need to be aware and sensitive to the dynamics it creates within schools and how wellness impacts everyone in the building.  Through this, it is important to explore ways that educational leaders can help support each other and productively work to maintain and manage staff wellness.  While our research team has personal reasons for this research, we also feel it is important to look at the reasons we found many gaps in Canadian research.  Through our team’s study, we discovered both positive and negative ways teachers may be dealing with stress, and we believe there is learning to be had from both ways.  Our 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   8	  	  	  group believes that if teachers are well and feeling positive, then this will ripple down into their students and their own personal learning and growth.  Education is not just about teaching; it is also about learning for growth, as good teachers are also learners.  We believe that staffs in the Pegasus School District will benefit from the findings of our data in terms of understanding what wellness is, how it impacts staff members in their schools, and, ultimately, how positive wellness will benefit students.                 1To protect the confidentiality and ensure the anonymity of the school district and the participants, we will use the pseudonym “Pegasus” for the school district’s name. 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   9	  	  	  Chapter 2- Literature Review  Introduction   This section aims to explore the academic literature looking at the concepts of teacher stress, burnout, and well-being.  At first glance, it appears that these topics are independent of each other; however, a review of the literature shows an interconnectedness between the topics. If an educator does not effectively deal with their professional and personal well-being, the result is that the individual may demonstrate symptoms of stress and consequentially burnout. When we hear the word ‘stress’, one automatically conjures up a negative image.  Stress, however, does not have to be negative. In fact, stress can be a positive influence in a person’s life.  It is difficult for many of us to fathom this idea.  As Maslach (2009) notes, “we have conceptualized burnout as an individualized stress experience that is embedded in a context of social relationships. . .” (p. 215).  The type of relationships we have can either assist or hinder our ability to manage stress.  Many people tend to withdraw from their social groupings when stress is increased because they do not want to appear incompetent.  The following questions guided our selection of the literature reviewed: • How are the terms stress, burnout, and wellness defined and connected through the literature?	  • How have these topics evolved and changed over time in the field of education?	  • What are some common themes that arise in the literature regarding stress, burnout, and wellness?	  In our review of the literature, we observed that some definite themes began to arise.  Some of these themes include the difficulty in defining the topics, identifiable stressors, strategies for coping with stress and burnout, and the apparent gap in both Canadian and British Columbian 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   10	  	  	  theoretical research.  The scope of our research included academic journal articles, books, and government websites and documents. We used the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Library search engine and Google Scholar search engine using key words pertaining to our topic. Key words and phrases that we applied to the search included: teacher stress, burnout, teacher well-being, teacher wellness, educational wellness, school wellness, symptoms and causes of stress.  Our focus was on articles that specifically used the terms stress, burnout, and wellness.  We narrowed our list of articles searched as we read the abstracts. What is Stress, Burnout and Well-being?  Definition of terms As we examined the literature, we noted that the concepts of stress, burnout, and wellness are often intertwined. It is difficult to separate the concepts when thinking about teacher stressors and their impact on wellness.  Specifically, the terms stress and burnout are often used synonymously in the literature.  According to the literature, “teacher stress can be conceptualized as an imbalance between risk and protective factors” (Prilleltensky, Neff, Bessel, 2016, p. 104).  Brown and Uehara (1992) cite Kyriacou’s (1987, p.146) definition of teacher stress as “. . . the experience by a teacher of unpleasant emotions, such as tension, frustration, anxiety, anger, and depression resulting from aspects of work as a teacher” (p.2).  As noted in Friedman’s (2009) article, “. . . teaching is a stressful occupation, and since unmediated stress may lead to burnout, schools are not a very healthy place to work” (p. 166).   As the literature points out that stress can lead to burnout, we argue that a definition of both terms is needed.  According to Maslach (2009), “. . . we have defined burnout as a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion (stress component), depersonalization (other- evaluation), and reduced personal accomplishment (self- evaluation component)” (p. 215).  Maslach has been influential in developing a resource that helps to identify burnout. In fact, Maslach is seen as one of the leading researchers in the 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   11	  	  	  field of stress and burnout.  The evaluation tool she helped to create is known as the Maslach Burnout Inventory (BMI) and has a specific component for educators.   If we extend Maslach’s definition and look at Kyriacou’s (1987, p. 146) definition as noted by Brown and Uehara’s (1999) article, teacher burnout is “. . . the syndrome resulting from prolonged stress, primarily characterized by physical, emotional and attitudinal exhaustion” (p. 2).  It is noted in the literature that it is difficult to establish a concrete definition of stress and wellness because they are often dependent on the context and situation.  The history of these concepts is initially seen in the literature in the 1970s.  In more recent years, further research has been conducted.  The academic world has developed language and terms that consistently define burnout and stress and these topics can be specifically defined within the field of education.  Although researchers are beginning to agree on definitions about stress and burnout, they tend to be vague and often dependent on context.  Rudow (2009) points out in his article that “. . . about 60% to 70% of all teachers repeatedly show stress symptoms and at least 30% of all teachers show distinct burnout symptoms” (p. 38).  Clearly the connection between stress and burnout leads us to the idea that the two concepts are so closely connected that their definitions are used interchangeably by people.  It is through a close examination of the academic articles and sifting through the evidence presented that researchers can begin to formulate an idea as to what stress and burnout mean in the realm of education. The same difficulty arises when trying to define wellness and well-being.  The concepts can vary depending on the situation.  The New Brunswick School Based Wellness Program identifies six types of wellness including physical, intellectual, occupational, emotional, spiritual, and social.  Identifying the various types of wellness helps to establish a wholistic approach to looking at stress and burnout.  It becomes clear through the literature that if one aspect of 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   12	  	  	  wellness is not being taken care of, then an educator’s stress levels may increase.  According to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), “wellness is defined as an active life-long process of becoming aware of choices and making decisions for a more balanced and fulfilling life” (BCTF, Income Security Dept., 2013).  Using the BCTF definition, one can assume that the choices we make professionally impact how balanced we are within our professional and personal lives.  Woods notes that Gerald Haigh (1995, p. 3) reflects on a comment made by a teacher that “you have to believe, in this business, that you are making things better and moving things on. If that particular spark is not there- if something happens that makes you think things are going the opposite way- it can be a very destroying occupation” (cited in Woods, p. 116, 2009).  It is our belief that attending to the various aspects of wellness becomes important for teachers to maintain their spark for teaching. Where did the Spark Go?  Teacher Stress...  “Previous research has reported that teaching is one of the most stressful occupations in the world” (Johnson et al., (2005) as cited in Danilewitz, 2017, p.1).  With 46 percent of teachers reporting high levels of stress it is hard to not focus on the topic.  Fantilli and McDougall (2009),  go on to state that “the demands placed on teachers are numerous and vary greatly across this population.   Teaching is one of the few careers where beginners have the same expectations and responsibilities as more senior workers” (Danilewitz,2017 p. 7).   DeRobbio and Iwanicki (1996), (cited in Brown &Uehara, 1999) stated: Teaching can be a stressful occupation.  The daily interactions with students and coworkers and the incessant and fragmented demands of teaching often lead to overwhelming pressures and challenges, which may lead to stress.  Where work stress is unrelenting, some negative physiological, psychological and behavioral consequences may result. (p. 1).    	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   13	  	  	  Much of the research states that it is important to explore the stressors of teachers to help guide and improve the interventions best needed to support teachers.  In exploring the literature, we need to look at individual responses.  “While some teachers cope positively with job-related stress, others do not for a variety of reasons.  Stress and burnout are not synonymous (despite some researchers using the terms synonymously).  Seyle (1976) pointed out that stress is inevitable (whereas burnout is not).  Burnout is the negative response to stress” (Seidman & Zager, 1987 p. 27).  It is our belief that the lack of being able to cope positively with issues that arise in teaching leads to a teacher’s feeling of stress.   According to Seidman and Zager (1987, p. 27), four components of teacher burnout were explored using the MBI: Teacher Burnout Scale.  These four areas are:   1) Career satisfaction; 2) Perceived administrative support; 3) Coping with job-related stress; and 4) Attitudes towards students.    Stressors – Factors and Causes Many teachers go into the profession because they have a love for children and for wanting to work with children, have a passion for learning and believe they can make a difference.  Woods’ (2009, p. 116) quote, “You have to believe, in the business, that you are making things better and moving things on.  If that particular spark is not there – if something happens that makes you think things are going the opposite way – it can be a very destroying occupation”, continually resonated with us and bares repeating as it is our belief that this ‘spark’ may be the balancing point for teachers and their ability to manage and cope with the stressors they are faced with.   But what happens when teachers feel that they no longer have this drive?  What happens to their spark?  What causes that spark to go out?  The answers can differ for each individual.  Each person deals differently with the challenges they are faced with each day.  What impacts one teacher may not impact another.  While there are always elements of stress in 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   14	  	  	  the profession that are part of the job, not everyone feels the extreme stress. Some can find ways to cope, while others are affected to the point of ‘hitting the wall’ and eventually leading to burnout.  The literature available gives many examples of teacher stressors, including (but not limited to):  increasing demands on the job; unclear expectations and guidelines; lack of communication; over-emphasis on standardized testing (an American focus, but in BC the Foundation Skills Assessments (FSA’s) can fall under this category); lack of supports for student learning (Learning Support, Counselling, Speech and Language, etc.) as well as lack of support for special need’s students; increasingly difficult student behavior with an increase in severity and frequency; home lives of students that teachers cannot control; teacher performance reviews/evaluations; Administrator observations; lack of time (to complete tasks); and poor relationships at the worksite.  Rankin (2017) points out that “even when teachers are passionate, working in a very demanding environment leads to mental and physical fatigue that is hard to fight, affect’s one’s attitude and makes it hard to work with students all day” (p.4).   While the preceding list is not inclusive, each item is experienced or ‘perceived’ differently by individuals.  As researchers, we asked ourselves, is it any wonder that teachers feel stressed when they do way more than just ‘teach’ a class?  Teachers plan lessons; integrate new curriculum; teach children to become critical and creative learners; ensure they are meeting ministry requirements (in BC);  deal with and support students socially; collaborate with colleagues (when time allows); deal with parent requests and expectations; grade and assess papers; support and deal with student conflict, doubts, and worries; mediate (with students, colleagues, parents); participate in ongoing professional learning; plan and implement effective classroom management practices; vary instructional practices and strategies for students; create a safe and positive learning environment for students (but also worry about student safety as well 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   15	  	  	  as personal safety (this is a significant concern in the United States); attend meetings; sponsor extra-curricular activities; provide first aid, meals and snacks; communicate and connect with other community groups and resources (i.e.. MCFD, Doctors, Psychologists, counselors, etc.);  and all while supporting their own families outside of work.  Some researchers refer to teachers as front-line workers and caregivers.  According to the Education Act of Ontario (Government of Ontario, 2015), “teachers are to act in place of parents while at school.”  This often adds another layer of stress or pressure on teachers.  “Teachers are expected to spot first signs of barriers to learning (mental illness, bullying, abuse, learning disabilities, poverty) and serve as an instrumental part of advocacy, intervention strategies and the provision of supports for their students in need” (Ball and Anderson, 2014; as cited in Danilewitz, 2017 p. 2).  “Given the trend that teachers are considered to be ‘front-line workers’ for mental health with the expectations that teachers support the mental health of their students, there is a growing need to address teacher stress/distress as related to their overall well-being and ability to engage in active home and work lives and the experiences of their students” (Danilewitz, 2017; p. 1).  We argue that teachers experiencing high levels of stress without realizing, dealing with, or getting the supports they need often become susceptible to ‘burnout’.  Maslach (1978, (cited in Hock, 1985,) states:   [W]hat we see happening among many of these professionals is a gradual loss of caring about the people they work with.  Over time they find that they simply cannot sustain the kind of commitment called for in the personal encounters which are the essence of their job...They experience a very special and distinctive kind of emotional exhaustion, losing positive feelings, sympathy and respect for their clients (students), A second development crystallizes into a cynical and dehumanizing perception of their clients that labels them in derogatory ways.  Seen by professionals as deserving of their problems, a blaming-the-victim philosophy sets in that in main cases appears to cause the quality of client services to deteriorate. (p.1-2)     	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   16	  	  	  Implications of Stress and Burnout  When high levels of stress and, eventually, burnout hit our schools, the consequences are great and can be serious.  As noted throughout the research, stress and burnout symptoms are different for everyone.  Burnout specifically is viewed at the individual level, as opposed to the school or organizational level.  While symptoms of stress and burnout vary for each individual, many recurring themes were reported about stress and burnout throughout the literature.  In one example of surveyed public-school teachers in San Diego, Hock (1985) as cited in Hendrickson, (1979, p. 37) stated: Teachers often have physical maladies such as frequent colds, headaches, dizziness or diarrhea.  If unchecked these ailments may turn into ulcers, colitis or asthma, or they may cause a loss of appetite....Teachers report that their self-concept drops to a new low as they question the meaning of teaching.  They see themselves becoming less and less effective with children and colleagues.  The teacher feels guilty, incompetent as an educator and finally inadequate as a person.  This, in turn, affects personal relationships and can result in a total emotional breakdown (p. 6).     Another teacher from Miami commented “I am getting drained of all of my energy.  I’m over-eating.  Everything feels out of control.  I feel so isolated” (Prilleltensky 2016,  p. 104).  While other statements included: “I feel that my students are the enemy.  I tend to treat my students as impersonal objects, I feel depressed frequently in my profession, I dread going into work each day, etc.” (Hock 1985 p. 58-59). As researchers, we have observed that many of these feelings then lead to a further sense of guilt, which then leads to even more stress.  Many times, teachers push these feelings aside, as an ‘in the moment thought’, or assuming it is just them and having the perception they need to toughen up.  Teachers have learned to cope with the stresses of the job, making statements such as ‘it’s all part of the job’ or ‘all in a day’s work.’  Oftentimes teachers carry these feelings on their own, and the feelings of mental and 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   17	  	  	  emotional exhaustion can hit unexpectedly.  This exhaustion can lead an educator to approach their workload in two ways – they either dig in deeper or isolate themselves from people and tasks.  People around them see them as overworking or working too hard.   “Emotionally exhausted teachers may do what many individuals in their situations have done; they cope by depersonalizing their co-workers and students and by putting distance between themselves and others.  They develop a detached concern, become cynical and feel calloused toward others in the organization” (Schwab & Schular, 1986, p. 15).     Burnout or Attrition?   According to Hargreaves (1978) and Pollard (1982), “when teachers are under pressure they may resort to coping strategies.  At one extreme, teachers employ survival strategies in which survival (getting through the day, week, term, year, with mental and physical health intact) becomes the main aim, rather than teaching children” (cited in Woods 2009, p. 124).   Many articles made reference that many teachers who get to this stage often feel that they need to leave their school, change roles or leave the profession.  A review of the literature led to the discussion around the concepts of teachers leaving the profession due to burnout or attrition.  It is clear that the two terms are related in respect to teacher stress, however they have different meanings.  Graham (2009) points out that burnout is a state of mind, whereas attrition is the act.  Graham (2009, p. 286) further states, attrition may have other causal factors, however “burnout may cause attrition.”  What leads some teachers to leave the profession due to burnout as opposed to attrition?   “Potential leavers displayed more emotional exhaustion, greater feeling of depersonalization and less personal accomplishments in their jobs.  Stress is one of the 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   18	  	  	  many reason’s teachers leave their jobs; unfortunately, schools often cannot find sufficient replacements and frequently face severe teacher shortages” (Brown & Uehara, 1999, p 2-3).  We are seeing the impacts of stress that the current teacher shortage is having in the province of British Columbia.  Understanding that the levels of exhaustion, depersonalization, and perceived lack of accomplishments lead to a level of stress that may cause an individual to develop a feeling of burnout, we ask, what then leads a teacher to exit their profession due to other attrition factors?  Brown and Uehara (1999; p. 14) also note ‘that stress from other sources (e.g. familial obligations) can carry over into the workplace.  Stress regardless of its source, can be alleviated through relevant programs”.   The Path to Well-being “A plethora of research shows that there exists a strong rationale for addressing staff well-being.  Poor staff mental health may impact students’ well-being and ability to learn, so supporting staff well-being benefits students” (Naylor, 2019 p.13).  Kelchehtermans and Strittmatter (2009, p. 304) note that “reduced well-being affects the quality of teachers professional performance, their level of commitment, and their job satisfaction.  It also appears to affect pupils learning negatively and places a heavy burden of the school as a workplace.”  In addition, the human and financial costs incurred from treating staff psychological disorders in Canada are significant (Naylor, 2019 p. 13).  Sisak (cited in Naylor, 2019, p. 13) argued: If teachers own metal health needs are neglected, they may be unable or unwilling to consider mental health problems of the young people they teach.  When teacher’s emotional health is in jeopardy, it reduces their ability to support and respond to pupils appropriately, which creates further difficulties with the classroom and more emotional distress for pupils and teachers alike.   	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   19	  	  	  With this in mind, we contend that it is even more important for staff members and districts to focus on well-being.  “Work related stress accounts for many workers’ compensation and disability claims and these claims cost school districts billions of dollars in medical costs, substitute teachers, and disability payments” (Brown & Uehara, 1999, p. 3).   Strategies to Promote and Maintain Well-Being We noticed in the literature that much of the focus around maintaining well-being is student centred.   While many School Districts support addressing students’ social-emotional learning and mental health initiatives for students, far fewer districts have a significant focus on the mental health of their staff…No matter what your role – student, educator, maintenance, or administration – everyone needs to look after their own mental health.  That means everyone is responsible for doing what they can to manage their own stress and build their own sense of positive well-being.  A culture of good mental health for everyone starts with the individual (Naylor, 2019, p. 13).  Naylor (2019, p. 15) proposes that we all need to act.  He proposes a) an individual approach – where each person considers their own role and needs, b) a collaborative approach – where a group would work towards their needs and supports, and c) a collective approach  -which would explore what might be supported by the district. Teacher stress needs to be looked at collectively by teachers, administrators, and superintendents.  There is growing consensus among researchers that, as Maslach (2009) points out, teacher well-being must include an individual solution as well as changes to the organization and social perceptions.  In order to address staff well-being in Canadian schools and education systems, “we are better together” (Naylor, 2019 p.17). Gap in the Literature As our research team worked through the literature, we noticed certain key areas of research that seemed absent.  While the terminology was first introduced in the early 1970’s, it was mainly associated with health care professionals.  As Brown and Uehara (1999, p.4) note: 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   20	  	  	  while many studies have evaluated worksite stress-reduction programs, few examine stress management specifically for educational personnel.  Most research on stress prevention has been conducted in the health and human services area, since work-related stress is very prevalent in the assistance professions ( p. 4).  Researchers noticed that educators were experiencing similar symptoms to other care professions.  Research then shifted to include the field of education.  Much of the initial educational research came out of the realm of special education teachers as opposed to teachers as a whole profession.  It is only in recent years that other countries began to explore the notion of stress, burnout and well-being in various levels of the teaching profession.   A majority of the above research was predominantly conducted in Australia, the UK, Europe and the United States.  What we found was a gap in Canadian based studies.  While many local Teaching Organizations (British Columbia Teachers Federation; Ontario Teachers Federation New Brunswick Teachers Organization; Alberta Teachers Association, etc.) have sites and programs associated with the topic, there have been limited academic studies conducted in Canada, and more specifically British Columbia.   A final gap that stands out for our research group is the lack of theoretical research.  Much of the literature examines empirical studies, which is leading to a creation of models in the area of stress and burnout.  As Burn (2009, p. 17) notes, “The concept of burnout however has evolved empirically rather than theoretically, a course that may derive from its perception of a social problem” (Maslach and Jackson, 1984).  To date, we are also unable to find specific theories surrounding the topic of stress, burnout and well-being.       	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   21	  	  	  Chapter Three: Research Methods and Designs   The research approach for our study was a qualitative study.  “Qualitative research focuses on the meanings, traits and defining characteristics of events, people, interactions, settings/cultures and experiences” (Tewksbury, 2009, p.38).  We believe that a qualitative study was most beneficial to explore and analyze the sensitive nature of our topic: Teacher well-being and the impact that perceived stressors have on their day-to-day life.  Incorporating qualitative methods into our thinking deepened and enriched our research findings:  “Quality refers to the what, how, when, and where of a thing– its essence and ambience. Qualitative research thus refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things” (Berg, 2007, p. 3 as cited in Tewksbury, 2009, p.39).  Qualitative research collects data from people through questionnaires, interviews, observing them or interacting or talking with them.  “Qualitative researchers rely heavily on theories drawn from the social sciences and humanities to guide their research process and illuminate their findings” (Reeves, Albert, Kuper and Hodges, 2008, p. 631).  “Qualitative research takes a holistic perspective which preserves the complexities of human behavior” (Black,1994, p. 425).    Our research provided us with the opportunity to explore the stressors on teaching even deeper through this holistic approach; through the different lenses of teachers at various points in their careers.  Our data focused on the content and anecdotal responses, gathered from our questionnaire, more than on the specific numerical findings of the question responses. Participants were able to complete our questionnaire and also comment on their experiences and thoughts regarding the open-ended questions.  The research team used the responses to the open-ended questions to identify recurring themes to code the data.  Codes were created by the 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   22	  	  	  research team as a whole and were refined as needed throughout the process of interpreting the data.  The fixed –response questions were able to be coded through the Qualtrics site as they were more numerical data.  We explored the teacher’s perceptions of stressors on the job, not on how many teachers are impacted. Through our research, we increased our own understanding of ‘what’ is going on and ‘why’ it is occurring.  Setting  Our study is located on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples.  Our study focused on elementary school teachers (grades K-7) within a large urban school district located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada.  This school district was given the pseudonym “Pegasus School District” as a means of protecting the identity of the community and the participants.  Pegasus School District is geographically diverse, as its public schools are situated in areas ranging from inner-city to affluent neighbourhoods.  Student population at our focus schools range from approximately 60 students to 950 students, which have culturally diverse populations as well as diverse economic backgrounds.   The school district offers a  variety of programs within elementary schools that include French Immersion, Fine Arts, Traditional, Intensive Behavior, and a variety of inclusion programs.  Due to the dynamic nature, given its demographics and size, of Pegasus School District, the study offered an interesting perspective on teacher stress and well-being.  Participants  Participants for our study were elementary teachers in a Lower Mainland school district.  The study included teachers, both enrolling and non-enrolling, with a range of teaching experiences.  We included individuals who identify as new teachers to veteran teachers.  While we understand our sample size may be very large given the size of Pegasus School District, we 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   23	  	  	  were pleased to receive 118 responses to the invitation to participate. As Yilmaz (2013, p 13) notes in her article: Irrespective of the kind of unit of analysis, the main aim . . . in qualitative research is to select and study a small number of people or unique cases whose study produces a wealth of detailed information and an in-depth understanding of the people, programmes, cases, and situations studied.   In order to recruit participants, a letter of invitation and the link to the questionnaire was sent to 2,753 elementary teachers.  The letter of invitation included a description of the study and the objectives we aimed to find as well as the link to access the questionnaire.  Participants were advised in the letter that the questionnaire would take approximately 30 minutes to complete and that the questionnaire consisted of multiple answer questions as well as space for anecdotal comments on their thoughts and experiences. Data Collection and Analysis  The data for our study were collected through teacher responses to an online questionnaire using Qualtrics Surveys.  Teachers were given a one-week time frame to complete the questionnaire using the link provided in the letter of invitation.  Given this time frame, it was important that our questionnaire was written in such a way to provoke honest responses but also in a non-threatening way for people to want to respond and answer.  The questionnaire was a combination of multiple response questions, with the opportunity to respond to these questions with more anecdotal or personal responses describing their perspectives or experiences.  Open-ended questions allowed our participants to expand on their personal experiences in a safe venue about what they perceive to be the stressors in teaching, how these stressors are managed, what supports are in place and what additional supports are needed, as well as the implications these stressors have on the day-to- day professional life of a teacher.  The collection of questionnaire results assisted us in examining how teachers perceive stress, wellness and its implications for 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   24	  	  	  job performance.  The use of a questionnaire allowed for a breadth of information that provided a good illustration of our participants’.   We furthered our understanding of teacher stress and burnout using academic journals, research and previous studies conducted on our topic.  This process allowed us an even greater understanding of previously explored and identified stressors of teacher stress, exhaustion and burnout.    As noted by Tewksbury (2009, p. 50), “The data collected by qualitative researchers are almost always text, narratives or visual images.”  Once our questionnaires were completed, we began the analysis process.  We looked at the perceived stressors of teachers as reported in the questionnaires and looked at patterns and similarities amongst teachers within the district.  We also analyzed teachers’ perspectives about how these stressors impact teachers on a daily basis.  We looked for evidence of possible responses that correlated with the academic research, but also at the differences that came from our questionnaires.  We then recorded and examined the written responses generated by teachers within the questionnaires and structured our findings in a cohesive and concise manner that was guided by our research questions.   Ethics  We complied with the guidelines of the Canadian Panel on Research Ethics and the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2) in order to ensure that ethics were upheld throughout the duration of our research.  In accordance with TCPS2 and UBC’s expectations, our proposal was submitted to UBC’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB) for ethics review before sending any invitations to participate and before commencing any data collections. 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   25	  	  	   In order to ensure consent was obtained in an ethical manner, our letters of invitation outlined the scope of our research.  The letter of invitation stated that completing the questionnaire, using the link provided, would signify that the participants are consenting to participate in the study.  Further, to protect the confidentially of the school district and the participants, we used a pseudonym for the school district and we did not request the names of participants or their schools.  Participation in the study was voluntary.  The participants implied their consent by completion of the survey using the link provided.  Any identifying information supplied in participant responses was removed from hard copies of the data set and was not included in the final report.  If we were not able to receive the desired number of responses, we were prepared to resend the letter of invitation to elementary teachers and extend the deadline for completion of the questionnaire.  The researchers include a classroom teacher and two administrators.  To protect the privacy of the participants, the researchers were not given access to the identities of the respondents.  Please see attached Appendix A for a copy of the questionnaire.  Positionality of Authors  The researchers involved in conducting the study are experienced classroom teachers and leaders, formally and informally.  Each of us has varied experiences with the concept of stress and well-being.  The researchers have strong views about what may be significant stressors for teachers and what supports may be available.  We also have varying ideas of how the significant stressors impact teachers’ ability to complete their day-to-day activities and impacts on students and families.  We were cautious that our opinions and ideas regarding stress and well-being were not evident in our questionnaire.  The researchers are open to learning about what participants identify as significant stressors, supports available, and impacts on the community.  We are 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   26	  	  	  aware that the purpose of our study is to gain insight as to the perceived notion of stress and well-being among educators.   Limitations  Our study provided a snapshot of teachers’ perspectives about current stressors and their impact on their daily professional lives.  A limitation to our research is that when using surveys, we needed to rely on participants agreeing to complete the task and to complete it in the assigned time frame.  There may have been further limitations if participants did not complete the full survey or did not respond to the open-ended questions of our survey.   A problem that is relevant for qualitative research is that when doing interviews (surveys) and observations the researcher needs to rely on those being studied to show up, agree to talk with the researcher, stay for the duration of the time required, and to participate in ways that are productive.  When those being studied do not come through on these issues the data being collected may be limited or contaminated, meaning that a project is likely to be delayed in completion or not completed (Tewksbury, 2009, p.49).   We have also found that the research available to us is limited in Canadian content and is from the United States, Europe, and Australia.  More specifically, we found limited information specific to British Columbia, where the Pegasus School District is located.  Due to his lack of information, we needed to search for possible connections between our results and that of other research locations.    Throughout our discussions and research, the researchers struggled with finding a single definition of the term ‘wellness’.  This can be a possible limitation to our study.  As Miller points out, “The use of the term wellness varies greatly from context to context, as it is a product of a rather complex formation process, a fact that makes a single definition of the term difficult” 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   27	  	  	  (2005, p. 84).  As a result, the researchers have identified a definition found through the BCTF, the professional union within the province where Pegasus is situated.  The definitions of well-being and stress used for the purpose of the study were: • Well-being is defined, by the BCTF, as an active life long process of becoming aware of choices and making decisions for a more balanced and fulfilling life.	  • Stress and burnout are often used as synonyms. Our team’s definition of stress is an individualized stress experience that is embedded in a context of social relationships.	   This definition will be used as the working definition in the study and questionnaire.     We are limiting the study to elementary school teachers, which means that the perspectives of secondary teachers will not be included.  Our study is also restricted to teachers working in one school district within the public-school system, which may limit the transferability of the findings to other contexts.  Regardless of these limitations, we believe that our findings are still useful for exploring teacher stressors, supports needed by teachers to support their well-being and the impacts of these stressors on their jobs, colleagues, and students. 	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   28	  	  	  Chapter Four: Results and Findings   In this chapter we examine the data collection, our analysis, and the findings from our research.  As mentioned in Chapter Three, our research team was interested in conducting research that addresses the way teachers perceive stress, the impacts of stress on their lives, the ways in which they cope, and the supports that are available to teachers.  Through the use of a questionnaire, our team was able to collect data indicating that the topic of stress and well-being in educators is of concern and that our research “just touched the surface” of this topic.  The findings were organized into the categories of stressors, impacts, coping strategies, and supports available.  Each of these categories will be explored in greater detail in the following sections.  Our group was able to use the data collected to reflect on our own understanding of the topic and how our findings compare to research that was explored in our literature review.  The data collected in our research confirmed much of what has been discussed in previous chapters; however, we did find some discrepancies.  These will be discussed later in the chapter.  Data Collection   Margaret Wheatley eloquently states: “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful” (margaretwheatley.com/articles/interconnected.html).  This need for reflection and dialogue surrounding teacher stress and well-being led our research team to reflect on our personal stories and, subsequently, to identify the need for more research and conversations around the topic.  Our team conducted our research through an anonymous online questionnaire.  We acknowledge that using a questionnaire does limit the type of data collected; versus using interviews.  As Jenny Rowley proclaims, “One of the limitations of questionnaires is that you will never be sure whether the respondents have understood your questions, or indeed, whether they have taken the 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   29	  	  	  time to provide accurate data” (2014, p. 314).  Given the sensitive nature of our topic, the team believed an anonymous survey would produce more authentic data.  As Sara McLafferty noted, “This style of research is also valuable for finding out about complex behaviours and social interactions” (Cope, Gillespie, and French, 2016, p. 130).  Given the size and dynamic nature of Pegasus School District, the survey was limited to elementary teachers.  The invitation to participate and the questionnaire were distributed through a logistics website (Qualtrics) approved by the University of British Columbia.   The process of creating our survey went through several phases and adjustments.  It was important that our questions be derived from the information and queries found in the literature; as well as being focused on our research questions.  Table 1 shows a guideline for formulating survey questions.  Our group found this information useful as we worked through the process. Table 1          Our group explored a variety of questionnaires, surveys, and documents that addressed the stress and well-being of educators.  As McLafferty points out, “The first step is survey 	  	  	  	   	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  Guidelines for Designing Survey Questions  Basic principles:     - Keep it simple     - Define terms clearly     - Use the simplest possible wording  Things to avoid:    - Long, complex questions    - Two or more questions in one    - Jargon    - Biased or emotionally charged terms    - Negative words like  ‘not’ or ‘none’  (Conducting Questionnaire Surveys, Sara McLafferty, 2016, p.131)  	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   30	  	  	  design. Researchers must develop questions and create a survey instrument that both achieve the goals of the research and is clear and easy to understand for respondents” (2016, p. 130).  The initial stage of developing our survey began with brainstorming questions that raised our curiosity.  We then moved to creating more formal questions that we identified as themes in the literature and to developing our research questions. McLafferty states, “Writing good questions requires not only thinking about what information we are trying to obtain but also anticipating how the study population will interpret particular questions” (2016, p.130).  The final sections of the questionnaire to which participants were asked to respond were a combination of fixed- response and open-ended questions.  By using open-ended questions, we hoped to dig deeper into the questions surrounding stress and well-being.  While the use of open-ended questions allowed respondents to have a voice; we found there were challenges in analyzing the data collected.  In analyzing the open-ended responses, we had to acknowledge that “ . . . this process involves interpretation, and has potential for researcher bias. . .” (Rowley, 2014, p. 326).  While our team reflected on our biases in interpreting the responses, we also realized that we could not control the way in which our respondents approached and answered each question.  In fact, we had to acknowledge that “when respondents read your questions they will each do this from their view of the world, including their understandings, interpretations, values, views and attitudes” (Rowley, 2014, p. 328).    Data Analysis  As mentioned previously, participation in the research was limited to elementary teachers.  Despite this limitation, letters of invitation were sent to 2753 teachers.  When the time frame for the survey ended, we were pleased to see that we obtained 118 responses.  In the literature, Jenny Rowley states that “ . . . collecting more than 100 questionnaires is likely to 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   31	  	  	  make your research more robust and offer opportunities for generating a wider range of insights” (2014, p. 317).  Of the 2753 surveys that were sent to teachers, 214 were started and 118 surveys were completed.  Our group reflected on the number of responses and the way in which teachers responded.  Some of the open-ended responses appeared to us to be more of a way for the respondents to vent their frustrations than to answer the questions fully.  We questioned if the timing of the survey made a difference to the results we obtained.  For example, did the economic times and contract negotiations currently taking place in British Columbia impact the survey results?  We argue that, as noted in Educator Stress: An Occupational Health Perspective, “. . . it is important to recognize that the problem of educator stress is embedded in its cultural, geographic, and economic context” (Mendonca, McIntyre, 2017, p. xiii).   Once the data were collected, our team began to sift through and code the information from the open-ended questions.  The Qualtrics website provided us with graphs and numerical data regarding the fixed response questions.  Our team developed preliminary codes as we sorted through the open-ended questions.  There were a number of responses, for each question, that could not be used as respondents did not answer the questions directly being asked.    Results and Findings  It was interesting to see the diversity of the respondents, which included their years of service and various grade levels.  Examining the years of service was important to us because we wanted to know if this would impact our data.  As Antoniou, Ploumi, and Ntalla mention in their article, “examining. . . length of teaching experience could contribute significantly to estimating the degree of stress and associated burnout among teachers” (2013, p. 15).  Table 2 shows that most teachers who responded were experienced (more than a decade) teachers while the next highest group were new (less than five years) teachers.  	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   32	  	  	  Table 2: Experience of Teacher Respondents  Number of Respondents Our team also noted that the majority of respondents were enrolling/classroom teachers.  Table 3 shows these results.  While our team did predict this, due to the high percentage of enrolling teachers in our research district, we also wondered if classroom teachers in fact experience a greater level of stress than their non-enrolling colleagues. Table 3: Teaching Component of Teacher Respondents Number of Respondents 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   33	  	  	  Table four shows the breakdown of respondents by grade level.  Our data shows a variety of grade levels represented; however, there is a higher number of intermediate respondents than primary respondents.  Table 4: Grade Level(s) Taught by Teacher Respondents 	  Number of Respondents 	   Our team’s questionnaire was organized into four main categories: work-related stressors that educators face, ways educators cope with their perceived work stress, supports available through their local teachers’ association and district, and the impacts of stress and burnout.  As researchers, we believe that it is important to note that stress is relative to the person’s perception and that what one individual may view as a stressor, may not be viewed as such by another.  Also, the concept of burnout may be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the individual’s perception.  When looking at ways educators cope with their perceived work stress, 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   34	  	  	  it is important to note that these coping mechanisms can be seen as positive or negative strategies.  As Mendonca and McIntyre note in their book Educator Stress:  . . . there is a need for more research that examines the role of  educator’s personal (e.g. gender, ethnicity) and job characteristics  (e.g. position, school level) in impacting stress; as well as on how   school- and system level characteristics (e.g. school socio- economic  status) constrain and shape teachers’ interpersonal relationships with students and colleagues (p.16).   Respondents were asked a variety of questions regarding their perceived work-related stressors and their effects on non-professional life and on colleagues and students.  We acknowledge that although teachers may have a number of perceived stressors, there are many aspects of an educator’s job that are unavoidable and cannot be eliminated.  For example, writing summative reports may be a stressor, but it is essential work.  This fact does not negate what teachers may experience because of these factors, but the factors cannot be taken away from the job.   Perceived Work Stressors One of our survey questions asked respondents to identify their perceived work-related stressors using a fixed-response question.  The results can be seen in Table 5 below.  The responses show that many teachers in Pegasus District indicated that class/student behaviour, class composition, and time limitations are the main stressors.  A surprising result was the low number of responses that indicated teacher evaluations.  The literature we read indicated this to be a more significant stress factor.  “. . . [T]eaching evaluation might trigger unnecessary teacher stress, which is often cited as an argument against the implementation of teaching evaluation systems” (Kelly, Ang, Choong & Hu (2008) as cited in Lejonberg, Elstad & Christophersen, 2018, p. 282).  One explanation could be that teacher evaluations in the Pegasus School District 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   35	  	  	  are typically only completed in a teacher’s first year of teaching.  This would result in most teachers not feeling overwhelmed by the possibility of an evaluation.  Table 5: Perceived Work- Related Stressors by Teachers  Number of Respondents  In relation to the low responses regarding standardized testing, we suggest that the low response rate could be explained by the fact that B.C. does not have numerous tests for students that impact teacher and school funding, as seen in the United States.  In our practices, we have observed that most of the stress around testing is found with the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests given to students at grades 4 and 7.  The source of the stress for teachers is not the FSA itself, but rather, it is the way in which the data are used and interpreted to rank schools by a 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   36	  	  	  non-educational institution.  Mendonca and McIntyre noted, “One unintended consequence of such testing, however, is that it can impact educator stress and well-being” (2017, p. 13).  It is important to remember that “the implication that workload is the most prevalent cause of stress requires a rethinking of ways to eliminate or reduce this stress within the teacher population . . .” (Austin, Shah, and Muncer, 2005, p.74).  Through a series of open-ended questions, we discovered, over and over, that teachers feel that time limitations, class composition, class/student behaviour, parents, and administration are the main work-related stressors for educators.  One respondent stated: I believe that during the curriculum changes and related changes (new ways to communicate learning, ADST, [A]boriginal content, inquiry, etc.) teachers became overwhelmed as many believe they had to do it all. . . at the same time.  There appears to be a lack of confidence in their craft as a result and this ultimately impacts teacher wellness.   Although it is easy to name factors such as time, class composition, etc., there seems to be a more foundational issue where the ripple effect is quite profound and hard to measure.   Impacts of Perceived Work-Related Stressors The research literature and questionnaire indicated the above-mentioned perceived work-related stressors exist, but it is critical to acknowledge the impacts these stressors have on the professional and non-professional lives of teachers.  As researchers, we questioned whether the stressors have an impact on professional relationships, students, and personal lives?  Our team’s prediction was that the stressors would have to have an impact, but we were unsure what the cost to individuals would be.  The stressors identified by teachers can be triggers for some individuals and not for others.  We are reminded in Jenny Rankin’s book, First Aid for Teacher Burnout: Some Reflections on Teacher Burnout, that “triggers force us into survival mode in which we are less effective, whereas identifying triggers can help us resist them” (2014, p.12). 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   37	  	  	    Question 8 asked respondents what impact perceived stressors have on day-to-day professional work.  38 respondents indicated that it affected them emotionally (frustration, overwhelmed, attitude, fear, and unhappy).  Respondents were also asked to comment on how the work stressors impact non-professional aspects of their lives.  The respondents indicated 49 times that they were impacted by exhaustion and lack of sleep, 35 comments were made on how it impacted family, and 28 indications were given that it impacted their mood and emotions.  Question 9 asked how work-related stress impacts interactions with students.  It was suggested 50 times that the respondents’ patience was impacted by stress and their ability to interact with their students.  29 comments were made about the emotional (frustration, irritability, guilt, fear) impact on student interactions.  27 indications were given that student relationships were impacted by work stress.  Examples of responses include:  When stressed, teachers may find themselves missing important information that arises during the work day.  Students needs get overlooked, problems become bigger, you fall behind in your work and your productivity gets harder to manage.  Stress causes a breakdown in health and a teacher may find themselves getting sick, or finding no energy to cope with the heavy demands from students and the millions of decisions that need to be made in the day.     I think work stress can cause you to be snappy with your students.  To not have patience, compassion and interest in students that you should.  I think work stress also decreases your enjoyment of what you are doing, and that can really come across to students in making school seem less fun and learning a less exciting experience.     You will end up with a short temper.  You will say ‘it’s just too hard/I can’t (a constant in our copy room).  You don’t teach things you can’t handle (currently happening in more than one of my colleagues rooms; they have openly admitted that they don’t teach something because they don’t have time to learn it and they are overwhelmed with teaching their class).  You have less patience for the students who need differentiations (witnessed more time this year than I can count).  You try to do everything yourself.  You stop caring about what the student may be going through and complain all the time about their behaviour (witnessed this year and last).   	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   38	  	  	   While these comments were common throughout this question, one could sense (and infer) the guilt and anxiety that went with these actions.  We believe that teachers do want to be the best they can be for their students.   Question 10 of our survey asked how work stress impacts teachers’ interactions with other professionals.  42 comments suggested that their work relationships were impacted, and 28 responses indicated that their attitude was impacted by work stress and their ability to interact with other professionals.  Examples of these are:  I would say the stress definitely impacts other teachers’ interactions   with other professionals.  If unsupported the teacher can feel very  low self-esteem.  The teacher thinks it is all their fault for not being able   to adjust to not only every child’s demands but many parents’ unrealistic   (babysitting ideals) demands.  I personally chose not to talk to anyone   and started to eat in the library alone because I felt unsupported [by]  my unions, admin, and friends.  At times I went to my car to eat alone   and call my wife.  Teachers feel overwhelmed by needs and often feel like when they do ask for help,          the message they receive from others is that they are just not up to the task. That makes asking for help all the more difficult.    While there was acknowledgement of the negative impacts on other professionals, a few comments addressed the positive impact that these stressors had with other professionals: “I feel that teachers are the greatest support network as we all know what it’s like in the classroom”,  “It’s a tremendous relief to have close binds with colleagues”, and “[It] brings us closer together in support of each other.”  As illustrated by these comments, even when faced with high levels of stress, some teachers can find the positive aspects and the value of relating and working together.    Teachers indicated that the impacts of these stressors include less patience, increased anxiety, withdrawal from social activities, and increased irritability.  In the book Educator Stress, the authors state that “. . . teachers’ relationships with students and colleagues are 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   39	  	  	  influenced by both school context and system factors” (Mendonca & McIntyre, 2017, p.9).   One of the comments our team saw in the responses included: “Survival mode makes it difficult to connect with students.  Feeling burnt out or when the tank is empty, it just feels like being a robot trying to get through.”  Another teacher commented that they “mask their feelings so there is no outward impact, but in doing so I harbour a lot of resentment to some colleagues.”  A different teacher mentioned that they feel more of that pressure to be performing at a master teacher level, and when they don’t, they feel less confident and proud of their work.  Finally, another respondent, who is a self-proclaimed new teacher, stated:  I think other stressors include staff interactions with other staff and   feeling a pressure to keep up with/ be the best teacher.  I think not having  a good staff culture, or feeling on the outside of a good culture is  something that adds stress for me.  Not having friends in the staff  room, or conversation during breaks that [is] uplifting really takes  away from those rest periods, and make [it] more likely for me to  work through recess/ lunch periods and end up feeling more drained  later in the day.  I think also being a new teacher and comparing myself/ students/ work to Master Teachers can be really challenging.  Others are often willing to help, but you also don’t want to be the drain that everyone  has to pour into.  Another respondent said, “I feel unimportant and disregarded.”  While another response from a teacher shared both the positive and negative impacts of stress.  They stated that:  I wish we had time during the day to collaborate with others.  Team   planning and team teaching is the most valuable way to improve as a teacher.  The sharing and learning is so important, professionally.   Teaching can be an isolating endeavour.  Also, between work and family there is often no time for self-care.  We have chosen this profession not for the fame, glory and certainly not for the money but because we care about children and we are compassionate people.  The first thing that  falls off the list of stuff to do is taking the time to take care of ourselves in whatever manner we need.  This to me is sad.   From a research perspective, it is important to note the way in which perceived stressors impact each teacher is different and personal. 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   40	  	  	  Coping Strategies  After exploring the perceived work stressors and their effects on professional and non- professional aspects of an educator’s life, respondents were asked to share ways in which they cope with these stressors.  One respondent shared that “[Teachers] often do not cope.  They work stressed, they go home and live stressed, and then they try to sleep stressed.  I would say that many are not coping, they are pushing down how they feel and suffering privately.”  As noted in the literature, “. . . teachers with high levels of stress are more likely to use negative coping strategies . . .” (Teacher Stress and Coping Strategies, 2005, p. 73).  Some responses were anticipated by our team, such as over-eating, exercising less, withdrawing from family and social activities; however, there were some startling ways that teachers said they are coping with work-related stress.  For example, a respondent commented that teachers may “self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.  [They may] exercise, over eat, sleep, [and] avoidance of work.”  The literature we examined showed studies that indicated that “the least used coping strategies for all teachers were drinking alcohol, using prescription drugs, taking a day off, exercising, and procrastinating” (Richards, 2012, p. 305).  Our results did not show this.  Through our research, we found these coping strategies in higher use.  Many respondents indicated they used drinking as a way to cope with their stress.  We cannot speculate on whether this refers to a single drink or if it constitutes multiple drinks.  What we found interesting was the number of respondents that indicated substance use, which includes the use of prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as using marijuana, to help cope with their stress.  We recorded 42 responses that indicated substance use as a way to cope with stress.  These results could be contextual and open to researcher bias, as we stated earlier; we cannot speculate whether the substance use is prescribed by a medical practitioner or individuals self-medicating to cope with stress.  Griffith, Steptoe, 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   41	  	  	  and Cropley noted that “teachers using . . . coping strategies such as alcohol, smoking and medication reported greater stress arising from work overload” (2013, p. 518).  Individuals who responded may have felt comfortable responding to an open-ended question; knowing that the research team was unable to know participant identities.  For example, a respondent mentioned that “I think the issue is teachers are not coping with work-related stress.”  Further discussion is needed in this area to identify how supports can be made available to help educators cope and how conversations regarding wellness can be encouraged.  For example, some respondents mentioned the need to have people to whom they can vent when they are feeling frustrated.  One said, “Venting their frustrations to colleagues, friends and family” is how they cope with stress.  Although this can be helpful, as Rankin mentions, it is important to “… share your frustrations with someone who will sympathize but who will also encourage you to overcome obstacles” (2017, p. 14).  Clearly, “the only power teachers may have is the determination to improve and practice effective coping strategies . . .” (Richards, 2013, p. 308).  Teacher Burnout Our questionnaire asked respondents to reflect on whether they have experienced “burnout” in their career.  Table 6 shows the breakdown of results.  The results show an overwhelming number of respondents indicating that they have definitely or probably experienced burnout in their career. We cannot speculate if these respondents are new or experienced teachers.  32 responses indicated that home/work balance was a reason for their burnout.  22 responses suggested that class composition and student needs were resulting in their burnout.     	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   42	  	  	  Table 6: Have Teacher Respondents Experienced Burnout?  Number of Respondents One respondent indicated that “the breaking point for me was when I realized I was at school an hour before work, and 2 hours after students were dismissed.  My home life was suffering.  I was at the point of sleeping away a majority of the weekend, just to recharge.”  Another commented:  I didn’t realize it was burnout until after I was burnt out. I didn’t   have boundaries for myself or a support system.  I was isolated  and working in a district away from my family.  So I moved to   another district to have the support of my family and made  sure to not stay at work and not take too much work home.  Finally, another stated, “I went through a period when my job became a chore.  It no longer sparked the joy it once did and I found myself getting further and further behind in my work and commitments.”  Although many teachers had lots to share about their experiences with burnout, many of the responses were about stressors and did not directly indicate burnout as defined at the beginning of the questionnaire.  This is not to invalidate how these respondents were feeling; rather, their responses did not fully answer the question asked.  Due to the individual nature of stress and burnout, our research team is unable to speculate on the degree of burnout experienced by the respondents. 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   43	  	  	  Supports  The last portion of our questionnaire asked teachers to identify any supports that they know are available to them through their district and/or local teachers’ association.  In response to a question about supports offered by the school district, some respondents were only able to identify one program.  Of these respondents, many said they knew of the program; however, they were unsure of what it encompassed. 17 responses referred to the support coming from the Employee Family Assistance Program (E.F.A.P.), while there were 25 responses referring to counselling as a district support.  One respondent noted that:  The district has an extended family assistance program staff can  access.  It gives access to counselling sessions.  It covers a maximum  of seven sessions.  The district also provides extended health coverage  for massage therapy, and physiotherapy.  Additionally, teachers can  take up to five unpaid days per year.  These are all initiatives that the staff  member must initiate, not from the district.  I feel the district, and school  administration, needs to do a better job in promoting wellness, on a weekly   basis.  There is too much emphasis placed on “professional development”,  and not nearly enough on wellness. There is a reason why many new teachers  do not last past the five-year mark in their teaching career.  Burnout is a   major factor.  25 responses indicated they were not aware of district supports, while 15 responses indicated that the supports were lacking or not enough.  An important point to note is that some of these respondents knew of the E.F.A.P. program; however, they were unsure of what this program encompassed and included.  Another respondent noted that: I know we have E.F.A.P. etc. but to [be] honest I cannot think of what it provides in terms of preventative rather than resources to access after you are feeling overwhelmed.  I know that there are emails sent out with links to surveys and online courses and such for self-care but they are not something I have time to do at the end of a long day.   In terms of supports provided by the local teachers’ association, 38 respondents of 118 were unsure of what is available to educators.  One respondent wrote that “our teachers’ 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   44	  	  	  association does provide a great deal but I am not familiar with it.”  Responses given that described supports made available by the local teachers’ association included: pub nights, socials, professional development, and workshops.  Another respondent commented, “Our teachers’ union does a few events throughout the year, whereby we get together with colleagues and do a pub night or a dinner/yoga session. I feel the teachers’ association makes an effort to improve wellness for teachers.”   A small number of respondents identified programs provided by the provincial association, but they were unsure how to access the programs.  For example, a respondent commented, “Wellness pro-d, BCTF has a Starling program.”  According to these findings, it appears that there is further work to be done so that educators are able to identify and access supports easily in order to take better care of themselves.  The conversation surrounding self-care and wellness is key to providing teachers the emotional resources they need to effectively perform their jobs.  As a respondent articulated: You don’t want school wide or district wide wellness initiatives to become yet another thing that a teacher has to fit into their busy day.  Wellness is different for each person.  One person may just need a few moments to sit with a cup of tea, instead of racing to a brief staff meeting, or committee meeting, while other people may find it helpful to participate in a staff program or sport activity.  Still others may enjoy chatting with each other at lunch or going for a quick walk around the block or putting on some music and quietly working.  Summary   There is a plethora of research around supporting student wellness and the importance of this topic; however, there has been limited research regarding the importance of teacher wellness.  Our research team reflected on the responses collected and wondered about how we would have answered our questions.  We agreed that in some cases we felt the same as our colleagues, but also discussed how each person’s response was a reflection of their experiences and perception.  The team found that many respondents were concerned with the impact of the stress and its influence on their students.  The team found this weighed heavily on many respondents and their belief that they are making a positive impact.  Even given the negative 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   45	  	  	  impact of perceived stressors on a teacher’s day-to-day work, our respondents still believed they are making a positive impact in their work.  About half of our respondents commented directly on how they were having a positive impact by building relationships, creating environments for students’ safety and care and connections.  The biggest take away was how connections with kids were the highlight of a teacher’s job.  It is these connections that help sustain a teacher during difficult times.  Some examples of positive responses include: “kids are awesome and I love them all and try to draw out their strengths and make learning fun”; “I’m changing kid’s lives”; and “I believe I am helping my students every day . . . we are a classroom family and support each other, my students need stability”; “the children know I care about them . . . I enjoy seeing the enthusiasm that my children have for school and learning”; and “I have beautiful and genuine connections with my students. I adore them . . . I genuinely believe I am doing the best I can”.    As our results indicate, teachers within the Pegasus School District have identified many stressors as a prevalent part of a teacher’s life.  While many of these stressors weigh heavily on a teacher, we acknowledge that many of these are components of the job. While the data shows that perceived stressors impact a teacher’s professional and non-professional life, there is a need to be proactive in ensuring teachers know where they can access supports to help them.  As researchers, we ask the question: without teachers who are learning and implementing their own self-care strategies to ensure their own well-being, how is the education system able to properly teach its students?  A few things were clear to our research team from all of the data we collected.  Teachers want a voice and want to be heard and, most importantly for us, we realize that we have just touched on the surface of this very important topic.  It gave us hope as researchers to see that teachers still believe, despite the stressors that they are making a positive impact in their day-to-day work.     	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   46	  	  	  Chapter 5:  Conclusion   Our research questions may seem simple.  They read as follows: • What are the perceived stressors in an elementary teacher’s job in the Pegasus school district? • What role or impact does stress play in elementary teachers’ interactions with their colleagues and students? • What supports are offered and/or needed for teachers who are struggling with stress-related challenges to their wellness?  Despite the straightforward nature of our questions and the significant amount of data that were collected, we believe that there are still gaps in our research.  As our charts and data show, teachers are openly willing to identify perceived stressors in their jobs.  The stressors identified through our Literature Review were consistent with our research in terms of identifying them.  However, the frequency of certain responses were not anticipated.   Administrative Feedback  Part of the goal of our research was to ascertain the levels of support provided for teachers by the district and the local teachers’ association.  While we did not directly ask questions about the availability of administrator support, the answer was inferred through many of the responses.  While there were some comments about administrators being supportive, there were many comments made about their lack of support, about administrators having ‘their favourites’, and multiple comments were made about ‘un-trained’ administrators.  This was  meaningful to us as a research team, given that our own focus has been on the well-being (of staff and students) in our own schools, and while we did not take this directly to heart, it made us wonder how we can change these views. It also made us reflect on our own practices, as school leaders, towards the well-being of our colleagues and teachers.  This made us think even more 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   47	  	  	  about what needs to be done at this level to further support our individual schools’ teachers and, furthermore, those of the Pegasus School District.  The feedback about administrator leaders is important, and our team believes that this is a direct question that needs to be asked in future studies.   We believe that school leaders need to understand their successes regarding the supports they provide to encourage teacher well-being, but they also need to know what is not being done well and what areas need more exploring and attention.   Supports For Teachers The relationship between administrators and teachers is crucial in our schools.  This relationship sets the tone for our schools and can impact other relationships within the building.  As we said, we believe that there needs to be more work done with staffs and administrators around the area of stress and well-being.  As leaders in our own buildings, it is our job to support the adults and the children who enter through our doors each day.  This support may be different for each person; therefore, we believe that providing the support that each individual feels or perceives that they may need may prove difficult for school leadership.  It is the job of a school leader to support the teachers so they do not get to the point of burnout because we know, based on our own personal experiences (and stories shared at the beginning of our research paper) that teacher burnout and teacher leaves-of-absence do have a huge impact on our district, our schools, each other, and most importantly our students.  Our research revealed that many teachers did not believe that the supports put in place by the district were enough.  As was noted in earlier chapters, Pegasus District offered a program for staff to access which included training and coaching sessions, phone consultations, videos and seminars, counseling and articles for perusal, but teachers indicated that the supports were not enough.  The lack of counselling sessions was commented on multiple times.  Given this feedback, it is important for us as researchers to reflect 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   48	  	  	  on the thought that if one is stressed and/or at the point of burnout, then how can this be resolved or fixed in 4 – 7 sessions?  Our respondents indicated that there was concern that sessions beyond the maximum of 7 were not covered by their plans and they could not afford the support they may need.   There was also unease about the lack of anonymity around these supports that teachers were seeking and fear that accessing the supports would be used against them.  This revelation further made us think that if teachers are feeling this concern, how can we expect them to ask for help?  This then leads to teachers trying to cope on their own.  And as was indicated in our data, these strategies may not be the healthiest options or as one respondent stated, “Teachers aren’t coping.”  As researchers, we found this disappointing.  Districts, rightly so, spend much time trying to support students’ social-emotional well-being, yet they may be forgetting about their staffs.  If educators cannot take care of themselves, how can they effectively take care of their students?  Our research team truly does not believe this is being done intentionally.  We cannot comment on the district’s perspectives in this area, as administrators and the school district were not asked to comment on their perspectives of teacher stress and well-being.  Further research in this area would be beneficial to all stakeholders.  As Naylor (2019; p.13) stated, “The responsibility for staff well-being also rests with leadership – when the whole learning community is aligned in its understanding and practice of mental health promotion, real change is possible.  When there’s shared language around well-being, and structures and processes to minimize work related stressors, then individual staff feel supported and part of a positive community.”  Reflections       Our research team started this study to find answers, and we truly wanted to be able to help teachers.  We were hopeful that our data would give us the exact information that was needed to 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   49	  	  	  provide teacher-supports and to be able to move forward in a positive way.  But our research only gave us more questions.   Overall, a review of our data made us wonder if these stressors would be different in other districts.  We were left wondering if we had expanded our research to other districts in BC, possibly the more rural districts, would we see a difference in the identified stressors and what teachers perceived as stressors in their jobs?  We also wondered, as a research group, if these stressors would be different from school to school if we fine-tuned our survey even more, and if so why?   We were happily surprised with the amount of data that we received from teachers who wanted to share their views and stories.  We were appreciative of the time they gave, and, if given the opportunity, we would have liked to hear from these teachers in more detail.  We would like to hear their own personal stories if they chose to share them.  It is these stories that we believe would give even more answers – to hear the struggles, to see the struggles and the pain, but to also hear and see the joy that teachers also experience in their jobs.  Just as we shared our stories at the beginning, we recognize that there is a vulnerability around sharing personal stories  and at times it can be very scary to actually say what you are feeling and experiencing, and it can be even harder to ask for help.   Often times we have observed that teachers see asking for help as a failure.  Teachers are the ‘front-line’ workers, and, in their view, they are supposed to be taking care of everyone else; therefore, if teachers have to admit that they are not taking care of themselves, then they may believe they failed.  The first step to moving forward is asking for help, and identifying the work that needs to be done.  Naylor (2019; p14) shares his experience: If you have ever been surveyed or participated in a focus group, you may have felt that once you had provided your input, some action might reasonably follow.  You may have 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   50	  	  	  been frustrated that action did not happen as you’d expect . . . having asked close to a hundred staff what helps or hinders well-being, and what they would like to see happen, we as a district team were keen to avoid the ‘we told them but nothing happened’ scenario.  As a research team, we too did not want our respondents to believe they ‘told us and nothing happened’.  The perspective of other stakeholders, such as administrators, District Staff, BCTF, Local Unions, other support workers (clerical, Education Assistants), parents and students would be beneficial.  We believe all stakeholders need to work together to identify and provide supports.   We found throughout the analysis of our survey responses, that many teachers who responded wanted a platform to share their viewpoints, to vent and to have their points of view and concerns heard.  While our open-ended questions gave teachers this opportunity, we noted that some teachers did not directly answer the questions, but rather chose that time to express their thoughts and experiences about the stressors within the job.  While in some instances, it was easy to make inferences around their concerns or stressors, other times it was exactly that – a venting of their frustrations around the systems in place and had no direct impact on our survey results.  While the information shared may not seem important to us as researchers, we took it as another sign that teachers wanted to be heard and may not believe that they are being given such chances.  The results for some questions surprised us.  Some made us sad, and some made us angry or frustrated, while others were expected.  In a profession that our team loves so much, we ask, “How did educators get to this point of frustration and how can we support a change?”  While many of the stressors in a teacher’s day-to-day are unavoidable and part of the job, we still need to acknowledge that these aspects are causing or adding to stress.  Based on the information gleaned from this study, we recommend that the school system put plans in place to increase support for teachers during these challenging times.  As researchers, it is our belief that every 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   51	  	  	  teacher knows what is involved in their jobs, and they know that there are some stressors that cannot be changed, but that does not mean that the stress does not exist or that the effect of these tasks does not play a role in their well-being.  In our opinion, it does not mean that one teacher is weaker than another, or that one is better than another because of how they feel or are impacted by stress.  We believe that a majority of teachers will put the needs of their students before their own needs, before the needs of their own families, and before realizing how these are impacting themselves.  We ask, “When do teachers stop and put the oxygen mask on themselves?”  When do they get to stop and say, “What about me?”, or when do they get to say, “I need help!” without fear of being judged or criticized?  Margaret Wheatley says it best: “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don't have to do anything else. We don't have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen” (MargaretWheatley.com/articles).   Our research team wants our respondents to know that we are ready to listen.            	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   52	  	  	  	  References	  	  Antoniou, A., Ploumpi, A., & Ntalla, M. (2013). Occupational stress and professional burnout in teachers of primary and secondary education: The role of coping strategies. Psychology, 4(03), 349. Azeem, S. M. (2010). Personality hardiness, job involvement and job burnout among teachers. International Journal of Vocational and Technical Education, 2(3), 36-40. BCTF (2019).  Staying Well at Teaching [Power Point Slides and Presentation].  September 30, 2019.  Professional Development Workshop. Black, Nick (1995).  Why we need qualitative research.  Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 48:425-426 Brown, Z. A., Uehara, D. L. (1999). Coping with teacher stress: A research synthesis for pacific educators. research series. Pacific Resources for Education and Learning. Honolulu, HI Byrne, B. M. (1999). The nomological network of teacher burnout: A literature review and           empirically validated model. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 15–37). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511527784.003 Clifford, N., Cope, M., Gillespie, T., & French, S. (Eds.). (2016). Key methods in geography. Sage.    	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   53	  	  	  Danilewitz, J. R. (2017). Quality of life and sources of stress in teachers: A Canadian perspective.  http://ir.lib.uwo.ca  Graham, P. A. (1999). Teacher burnout. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 285- 292). Cambridge University Press.   Hock, R. R. (1988). Professional burnout among public school teachers. Public Personnel Management, 17(2), 167-189. doi:10.1177/009102608801700207 Kelchtermans, G. (1999). Teaching career: Between burnout and fading away? reflections from a narrative and biographical perspective. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 176- 191). Cambridge University Press.  doi:10.1017/CBO9780511527784.011  Kelchtermans, G., & Strittmatter, A. (1999). Beyond individual burnout: A perspective for improved schools. guidelines for the prevention of burnout. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 304-314). Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511527784.022  Lambert, R. G., McCarthy, C., O'Donnell, M., & Wang, C. (2009). Measuring elementary teacher stress and coping in the classroom: Validity evidence for the classroom appraisal of resources and demands. Psychology in the Schools, 46(10), 973-988. doi:10.1002/pits.20438 Lens, W., & Jesus, S. N. D. (1999). A psychosocial interpretation of teacher stress and burnout. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   54	  	  	  burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 192- 201). Cambridge University Press.  doi:10.1017/CBO9780511527784.012  Maslach, C. (1999). Progress in understanding teacher burnout. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 211- 222). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511527784.014  Mendonca, T. & McIntyre, S. (2017). 1. e. Educator stress Springer International Publishing. Miller, J. W. (2005). Wellness: The history and development of a concept. Naylor,  C. (2019).  Staff Well-Being in Schools. Education Canada, 59, No. 3 (p. 13-17).  Prilleltensky, I., Neff, M., & Bessell, A. (2016). Teacher stress: What it is, why it's important, how it can be alleviated. Theory into Practice, 55(2), 104-111. Rankin, J. G. (2017). First aid for teacher burnout: How you can find peace and success. London: Routledge Ltd. doi:10.4324/9781315622477  Reeves, S., Albert, M., Kuper, A., & Hodges, B.D. (2008).  Qualitative Research - Why use theories in qualitative research?  BMJ (Clinical Research ed.).  Volume 337.  337.a949.10.1136/bmj.a949 BMJ 2008:337:a949 doi:10.1136/bmj.a949 Rowley, J. (2014), "Designing and using research questionnaires", Management Research Review, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 308-330. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/10.1108/MRR-02-2013-0027    	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   55	  	  	  Rudow, B. (1999). Stress and burnout in the teaching profession: European studies, issues, and research perspectives. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 35- 38). Cambridge University Press. DOI :10.1017/CBO9780511527784.004  Schwab, R. L. (1986). Educator burnout: Sources and consequences. Educational Research Quarterly, 10(3), 14. Seidman, S. A., & Zager, J. (1987). The teacher burnout scale. Educational Research Quarterly, 11(1), 26. Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2016). Teacher stress and teacher self-efficacy as predictors of engagement, emotional exhaustion, and motivation to leave the teaching profession. Creative Education, 7(13), 1785-1799. doi:10.4236/ce.2016.713182 Sleegers, P. (1999). Professional identity, school reform, and burnout: Some reflections on teacher burnout. Understanding and preventing teacher burnout : A sourcebook of international research and practice (pp. 247-255). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wheatley, Margaret. MargaretWheatley.com/articles. Woods, P. (1999). Intensification and stress in teaching. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (p. 115- 138). Cambridge University Press.  doi:10.1017/CBO9780511527784.007  	  	  	  	  	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   56	  	  	  	  Appendix A:  Survey Questions 	  	  Stressors and Well-being of Educators  1. How long have you been in the teaching profession  _0-5 years  _6-10 years  _ 11+ years 	   	   	   	   	   	   	   	   	   	   	    2. What do you currently Teach?  Check all that apply.   _ enrolling Teacher (Classroom)  _ non-enrolling (LST, IST, Music, Prep,etc.)  3. What Grade Level do you teach?  Check all that apply.  _kindergarten	   	  	   __Grade	  1	   _Grade	  2	   _Grade	  3	  _Grade	  4	   	   _	  Grade	  5	   _	  Grade	  6	   _Grade	  7	   	   	   	  	  4. What do you believe are stressors for teachers in the work place?  Check all that apply.  _Time	  limitations	  (ability	  to	  plan;	  complete	  work,	  etc.)	   	   _Meetings	  	  _Class	  composition	   	   	   	   	   	   _Control	  of	  decisions	   	  _Classroom/student	  behaviours	  	   	   	   	   _Collaboration	  time	  (lack	  of)	   	  _Emphasis	  on	  assessment	   	   	   	   	   _Safety	  (self/class/school)	  _Work	  commitments	  after	  hours	  (marking,	  planning,	  coaching,	  etc.)	  _Teacher	  evaluations/Admin	  Observations	   	   	   _Parents	  _Other: Please list other perceived stressors:   5. Do you believe work stress impacts non-professional aspects of a teacher’s life (home, social, personal interactions, etc.)?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  If your response is ‘definitely yes’ or ‘probably yes’, please tell us how and in what ways.  (Provide examples where possible):   6. How do you believe work stressors impact day-to-day professional work?  (please list or comment): 	  	  	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   57	  	  	  	  	  7. Does work-related stress impact teachers interactions with students?   _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  If so, please tell us how and in what ways.  (Provide examples where possible):   8.  Does work related stress impact teachers’ interactions with other professionals?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  If so, please tell us how and in what ways (Provide examples where possible):   9. What are ways you believe teachers cope with work related stress?   10. How do you believe stress can be reduced at work?   11. Overall, do you feel supported by school administrators on issues of wellness?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  Comment:   12.  Do you feel supported by your school district on issues of wellness?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  Comment:  13. Do you feel supported by your local Teachers’ Association on issues of wellness?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  Comment: 	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   58	  	  	    14. Please list supports needed for teachers to maintain wellness:	  	  	  	  15. Are you aware of the supports available to teachers in regards to wellness?  _yes  _no  16. Have you ever experienced burnout in your teaching career?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  Why do you think you experienced burnout? (Please comment if you are comfortable):   17. As a teacher, do you believe you are making an impact in your profession, with your students, in your day-to-day work?  _Definitely	  Yes	   	   _Probably	  Yes	   	   _Might	  or	  Might	  Not	  _Probably	  Not	   	   _Definitely	  Not	  	  Comment: 	  	  	  	  	  	  	  Stressors	  and	  Well-­‐being	  of	  Educators	   59	  	  	  	  	  


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