If students and teachers of a school appear to be stressed, the chances of the same feeling percolating to a new colleague are quite high, suggests new research.
The study, published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education, found a significant link between burnout among early-career teachers and exposure to both a school-wide culture of burnout and burnout among the young teachers' closest circle of colleagues.
"If you are surrounded by people who are downcast or walking around under a pall of burnout, then it has a high chance of spilling over, even if you don't have direct contact with these folks," said Kenneth Frank, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.
"This study is one of the first to provide evidence that the organisational culture in schools can make a notable difference for early-career teachers' burnout levels," Frank added.
The researchers analysed the survey data on burnout of 171 teachers who were in their first four years in the profession and 289 experienced teachers who served as the young teachers' mentors or close colleagues.
Frank said teacher burnout is also tied to the current education policy environment. Controversial policies such as evaluating teachers based primarily on student test scores, merit pay for teachers and lack of voice in assignment of students to teachers can bring added pressure.
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