UBC Graduate Research

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


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 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

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