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Researchers are working with educators in Vernon and Windsor to learn more about stress

Frustrated teacher explaining arithmetic to students
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
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Digital Vision

The issue of teacher stress is uniting researchers at UConn and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, who are banding together to learn more about what’s stressing educators statewide.

In a Gallup poll in June, 44% of K-12 workers in the U.S. said they "always" or "very often" feel burned out at work, statistics that outpace all other industries nationally.

A recent Rand Corp. survey also found that U.S. teachers and principals are experiencing job-related stress at a rate two times that of the general population of working adults. In particular, Hispanic/Latinx teachers, mid-career teachers and female teachers and principals reported especially poor well-being.

Jenn Cavallari, with the UConn School of Medicine and the Total Teacher Health project, said her research group has teamed up with two school districts in Windsor and Vernon to learn more about what’s stressing teachers.

“We’ll be surveying educators in both districts – and identifying the factors in their school district that are impacting educator stress,” Cavallari said on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live.

Cavallari said teachers feel like they are being asked “to run business as usual, although they were in the midst of a pandemic. And they often had to balance the different expectations of teaching and educating students while meeting the students’ well-being needs,” she said.

After the survey work, the teachers will work with school administrators to implement programs to prevent stress at an organizational level, with retention being the long-term goal.

“We’re hoping that the program that we’re implementing as part of the Total Teacher Health project will serve as a national model for improving educator well-being,” Cavallari said.

The ongoing five-year study by the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace is funded by an $8 million grant from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Sujata Srinivasan is a Senior Producer for 'Where We Live,' the flagship news-based, call-in talk show from Connecticut Public Radio, featuring deep dives at the intersection of data-driven narrative and investigative long-form journalism. She's also an editor for the Connecticut Public newsroom.