Teachers’ psychological stress and wellbeing during a pandemic : exploring latent profiles

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2023-08

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Abstract

Teacher stress is at an all-time high. The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for teachers, which resulted in record numbers of teachers intending to leave the classroom. Understanding teachers’ positive and negative psychological experiences, or wellbeing, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic will inform teacher support efforts and defray teacher attrition. This study employed quantitative and qualitative methods to identify patterns, or profiles, of teachers’ psychological wellbeing and their relationships with workplace appraisal and qualitative data. Two hundred forty-six teachers from a suburban school district in Central Texas participated in an online wellness survey in March of 2021. The survey measured established indicators of teachers’ psychological wellbeing, including affect, perceived stress, teaching self-efficacy, preventive coping, and appraised workplace demands vis-à-vis resources. A latent profile analysis was conducted to identify profile patterns among the former four indicators. A multinomial logistic regression was conducted to identify relationships between teachers’ workplace appraisal classifications (i.e., demanded, balanced, or resourced) and probable profile membership, controlling for known influences on workplace appraisal (i.e., gender, years of teaching experience, and school level). Thematic analysis was conducted on teachers’ written descriptions of workplace demands, resources, and outcomes during COVID-19. Emergent themes were tested for relationships with profile membership. Analyses identified four patterns of teachers’ psychological wellbeing: strained, resilient, lower teaching self-efficacy, and lower emotional wellbeing. Workplace appraisal categories were associated with teachers’ strained and resilient profiles. Emergent themes and profiles were not significantly related. Findings indicate a third of teachers were resilient at the height of the COVID-19 crisis and two-thirds experienced strain in at least one area of psychological wellbeing. Wellness resources based on teachers’ probable profile will likely be more effective than blanket approaches. Additionally, assessing teachers’ perceptions of their work environments shows promise for wide-spread screening for teachers experiencing substantial strain and those who are resilient during crises. Future research is needed to understand how “balanced” workplace appraisal relates to teacher wellbeing. The main text of this dissertation is in article format. Appendices provide historical information on teacher stress research, an extended literature review, and a summary of qualitative procedures and findings.

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