Primary teacher burnout: Through the lens of theory and experience
This mixed method study explores Burnout in New Zealand’s primary teachers and introduces the concept of Workplace Spirituality as a possible burnout mediator. Six published self-report scales derived from international findings were used to explore teachers experiences of burnout in relation to attributions, efficacy, emotional intelligence, and use of emotional labour strategies within a New Zealand context. Semi-structed interviews with participating teachers then facilitated phenomenological understanding of these constructs. Findings suggest that Emotional Labour is an unavoidable and fundamentally fatiguing requirement of teaching that requires greater acknowledgement and support. Recommendations urge robust supervision as part of greater investment in social and emotional learning programmes that prioritise supporting and increasing teacher’s capacity to care for their own mental and emotional needs. These programmes need to be led by compassionate leaders who recognise the importance of caring for their teachers and who are properly equipped to do so. By exploring spirituality through the lens of connection and meaningful work we are invited to transcend the confines of spirituality- as-religion to a greater awareness of ourselves as humans, which may be the key to understanding what systemic change is required to avoid perpetuating inherently burnout inducing systems.