This document reports on a study that examined the relative salience of several risk factors for burnout among educators and examined the changes in burnout over time; it describes the research methodology and outcomes, and discusses its implications.
Burnout is an increasingly prevalent issue among school staff throughout the USA and is associated with a range of negative personal and professional outcomes. School communities are also affected, as teacher burnout has been shown to be associated with worse student outcomes and teacher retention. Prior research has identified several risk factors for burnout, including low connectedness, poor psychological safety, and unsupportive administrative leadership. The present study examines the relative salience of each for their impact on burnout over a 4-year period. Survey data come from staff from 20 rural Idaho schools, with data collected annually each spring from 2019 to 2022. Measures included the burnout dimension of emotional exhaustion, as well as connectedness, psychological safety, and transformational leadership from validated scales. Latent growth models assessed changes in burnout over time, with demographic characteristics as time-invariant covariates and hypothesized risk factors as time-varying covariates. The results showed a significant increase in burnout over the study period, with the fully adjusted model indicating that burnout was predicted by connectedness in all four waves, as well as by psychological safety and leadership in selected single waves. The results suggest that fostering integration and positive relationships among school members may be more effective than other approaches for reducing staff burnout over time, and that the COVID-19 pandemic likely made psychological safety and leadership more salient for reducing risk of burnout among educators. Publisher Abstract Provided
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