Researchers say that schools have a vested interest in improving teacher well-being, citing a 2022 Gallup poll that found 44 percent of K-12 workers in the United States “always” or “very often” feel burned out at work. Zooming in on only teachers, they had the highest rate of burnout among all school workers at 52 percent.

The International Baccalaureate decided to take a closer look at teacher well-being following the toll taken on schools by the COVID-19 pandemic, Merriman says, when it became apparent that little research existed on the topic. The paper is the second in a series of three that the organization commissioned, with the first covering student well-being.

“The pandemic hit, and everybody was suffering: students and their families and guardians and teachers and school administrators,” she says. “[The Wellbeing Research Centre] really are helping us to understand the science behind well-being. How do we define it? What are the drivers or determinants of well-being? And then what might we do at the IB or globally to really try and improve student and teacher well-being?”

Researchers developed what the report calls a framework that divides teacher well-being into three main factors: job satisfaction, individual elements like physical health, and school-level drivers like work-life balance and class size.

While the report cautions that the research field is in its infancy and the teacher well-being drivers it identifies may not be exhaustive, it offers the framework to start conversations at schools that want to better support teachers.

Researchers also identified school climate, salary satisfaction, supportive professional relationships, job security, continuous learning, and workplace recognition as school-level factors that drive teachers’ job satisfaction.

The ultimate goal is for schools to “have these conversations about what's really important to the teachers and to the staff, and for the school to understand the local context and what's driving strong or weaker levels of school satisfaction for those educators,” Merriman says.

Some poll data shows that more than half of teachers have considered quitting, and Merriman says it's important for the education field at large to improve workplace well-being before the declining number of teachers becomes a potential crisis. It may already feel that way in some parts of the country where teacher turnover rates hit as high as 24 percent in 2022.

Read the full article about teacher well-being by Nadia Tamez-Robledo at EdSurge.