ACU study aims to uncover why longstanding teachers are able to beat burnout

ACU study aims to uncover why longstanding teachers are able to beat burnout

by Freya Lucas

June 13, 2022

Researchers from the Australian Catholic University (ACU) are conducting a study to uncover the secret of longevity and beating burnout in teachers, hoping their work will help to stem the workforce exodus and epidemic of teacher burnout which is leaving schools and the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector scrambling to meet staffing needs. 

 

Long-standing teachers will be surveyed for their “survival” skills to help support those entering the profession to remain on the frontline of working with children. Dr Debra Phillips hopes the study will tap into the often-undervalued resource of teachers with decades of experience to find out how they had stayed in the profession so long.

 

Dr Phillips aims to uncover the strategies and tips that older, experienced and mature teachers have used to remain ‘alive’ in the profession so that their knowledge can be passed on to younger teachers “before that wisdom is completely lost.” 

 

“We want to get the informed wisdom from teachers, especially those who have taught for 20 years or more, because once they leave, the teaching profession will have lost all of their cultural knowledge,” she said. 

 

Working with ACU Associate Professor Alison Owens Dr Phillips will look to long serving teachers to offer tips, strategies, and advice that could help stem teacher burnout and workforce attrition.

 

“We will ask about what they’ve seen, observed, and done. We will ask them to tell us, ‘What did you do to manage and to get through the difficult times?’”

 

Dr Phillips, whose Australian-first Graduate Certificate in Mental Health for Teachers and Educators started at ACU this year, said the research would lead to an online resource for teachers, particularly graduates.

 

“We are looking at setting up a live resource that looks at different scenarios with practical strategies and useful tips from the lived experiences of teachers,” she said.

 

“It will reassure them that whatever their experience, more than likely, someone else has experienced it or many, many people have experienced it in schools across Australia.”

 

Dozens of teachers, from early childhood through to secondary specialisations, will be surveyed across the country, with the research relevant internationally given teachers were leaving the profession due to workforce stresses globally.

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