Abstract: Examining the Predictors of the Burnout Among K-12 Teachers during the COVID-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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724P Examining the Predictors of the Burnout Among K-12 Teachers during the COVID-19

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Junrong Shi, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, TN
Emma Carter, MSW student, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
Abby Goncalves, MSW student, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
Hannah Jacky, MSW student, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
Tiffany Smith, MSW student, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
Jessica Thomas, MSW student, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
Background: Teachers reported an increasing rate of burnout during Covid due to all the changes to prevent the spread of the virus while maintaining the quality of education to students. Recent studies found that teaching modality, communication with parents, and lack of school support might affect burnout among teachers. However, studies about teachers’ burnout during Covid-19 were limited, and it is important to systematically investigate the predictors of burnout to help schools better cope with future challenges like a pandemic. This study aims to examine the predictors of burnout among K-12 teachers during Covid.

Methods: Primary data were collected using a cross-sectional online survey design. A convenient sample of K-12 teachers (N=159) was recruited from several states (e.g., Georgia, Tennessee, etc.). The dependent variables were burnout level (measured by a 9-item Likert scale based on Copenhagen Burnout Scale; higher scores indicate higher burnout; Cronbach Alpha=0.8843). Independent variables include several potential predictors of burnout: a) Factors related to teachers, such as demographics (age, gender, race), years of teaching, grade, and subjects taught (e.g., Language, Science, Math, Social Studies, etc.); b) Factors related to schools, such as school location (rural vs urban), public vs private, teaching modality (virtual, in-person or both), different types of support received. Stepwise multivariate linear regression models were established to identify significant predictors of burnout among teachers using Stata 17.

Results: Most participants were whites (94%), and females (74%). About half of them had been teaching for less than 10 years (50%) and taught 9th to 12th-grade students (51%). Majority of teachers were from public schools (90%) and schools in urban areas (52%) and taught in-person classes (85%). The first regression model only included factors related to teachers (R2=0.226; p<0.1). It showed that female teachers reported higher burnout levels than their male counterparts (b=5.161; p=0.001). The second regression model added factors related to schools (R2=0.566; p<0.001). The result showed that females (b=2.835, p<0.05) had higher burnout than males. Pre-elementary teachers reported higher burnout than those who taught other grades (b=7.043; p<0.05). Language arts teachers reported less burnout than those who taught other subjects (b=-4.294; p<0.05). Perceived support for teaching from schools (b=-1.904; p<0.01) and perceived appreciation from students and parents (b=-1.236; p<0.05) were negatively associated with burnout. Other school-related factors were not significant predictors of burnout including school type and location, teaching modality, training, promotion opportunities, agreement to Covid policy, resources from school districts, and engagement with other teachers. For both models, age, race, and teaching years did not predict burnout.

Implications: The preliminary findings suggest that females, pre-elementary teachers, or teachers who taught some subjects might experience higher burnout levels than their counterparts during Covid, while support for teaching from schools and appreciation from parents and students can buffer the effect of Covid on teachers’ burnout. Because most teachers in the sample taught in person, future studies should continue investigating the effects of teaching modality and training. School administrations and social workers should provide more support and resources to teachers who reported higher burnout levels.