Reducing Teacher burnout: A Socio-Contextual Approach

From Section:
Theories & Approaches
Countries:
Finland
Published:
Oct. 01, 2013

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 35 (October, 2013), p. 62-72
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)


The study aims to gain a better understanding of the interrelation between teachers’ proactive strategies (self- and co-regulation) and perceived teacher-working environment fit that would be mediated by a socio-contextual burnout experience.

Method
Altogether 2310 Finnish teachers completed the study’s survey.
All respondents had MA degrees, and all were in various phases of their careers.
Three scales for measuring teachers’
a) proactive strategies,
b) socio-contextual burnout, and
c) experienced teacher-working environment fit were developed by the authors for the study.

Discussion

The results indicate that teachers can learn the kinds of strategies that allow them to reduce burnout and construct a better working environment fit.
Teachers’ proactive strategies, both self- and co-regulation, were found to ameliorate their experienced socio-contextual burnout.
The model showed that teacher’s successful co-regulation, i.e. their ability to utilise social resources, correlated negatively with all burnout components: exhaustion, cynicism towards the teacher community and inadequacy in teacher-pupil interaction.
Moreover, teacher’s self-regulative strategies correlated negatively with exhaustion, while they were positively related to cynicism towards the teacher community.

However, it seems that reducing socio-contextual burnout symptoms, i.e. teacher cynicism towards the professional community and inadequacy in teacher-pupil interaction, requires adopting strategies that enable not only access to the resources of the community but also that have the potential to contribute to further development of the working environment.

This study also sheds new light on the role of the co-regulation aspect of teachers’ well-being.
Teacher’s co-regulation and ability to seek and receive social support from colleagues correlated positively with experienced teacher-working environment fit.
These results suggest that the experienced working environment fit can be seen as a social outcome which is dependent on teachers’ experienced well-being at work and can be improved by co-regulative strategies adopted by members of the professional community.
Finally, the interrelation between teachers’ proactive strategies, both self- and co-regulation, and perceived teacher-working environment fit, is mediated by the socio-contextual burnout experience.
Moreover, the results revealed that the effect of teachers’ proactive strategies (self- and co-regulation) contributing to an optimal teacher working environment fit are particularly mediated by two burnout components, experienced exhaustion and cynicism towards the teacher community.

This study showed that proactive strategies contribute to both experienced burnout and perceived teacher working environment fit.
The results suggest that adopting proactive strategies that allow teachers to simultaneously regulate their own behaviour and their working environment are effective in reducing burnout.
Furthermore, the findings indicated that the effect of proactive strategies on perceived fit is primarily mediated by experienced burnout.
In the present study, the authors see the teacher-working environment fit as a central outcome of experienced burnout symptoms and strategies adopted by teachers.
The sources of teacher burnout as well as resources for occupational well-being are embedded in the social interactions of the school community which in turn reflect both the society and even global developments.

The results indicate that teachers can learn strategies that allow them to reduce burnout and construct a better working environment fit, which may further promote their well-being in work.
This implies that a good fit cannot be achieved by merely adapting to the working environment, but rather by actively modifying the environment together with others.
On the other hand, the working environment provided by the school community, including the fit, is likely to have an effect on the strategies that teachers have an opportunity to learn.

Both the learning and use of multiple strategies are highly embedded in the social interactions of the school, and also reflect the opportunities and affordances the school system as whole offers the teachers.
In the context of Finnish teachers’ everyday work, membership in a professional community, with its responsibilities and rewards, creates an important source of trust and well-being, and is therefore a significant resource for professional development.


Updated: Dec. 04, 2019
Keywords:
Self-regulatory activities | Strategies | Stress management | Teacher burnout | Work environment