Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 399–420 | Cite as

Resilient teachers: resisting stress and burnout

  • Sue HowardEmail author
  • Bruce Johnson


In Australia, the incidence of teacher stress and burnout has caused serious concern. Many studies of teacher stress have focused on the dysfunctional strategies of individual teachers – in other words they have adopted a deficit approach to the problem with the focus firmly fixed on ‘what’s going wrong’. From this perspective, the failure of some teachers to cope has generally been defined as a personal rather than an institutional weakness and the solutions that have been promoted have been largely palliative or therapeutic. The study reported in this paper adopted a different approach to the question of teacher stress and burnout. Instead of asking ‘what’s going wrong’ we asked why are some teachers able to cope successfully with the same kinds of stressors that appear to defeat others – in other words, we looked at ‘what’s going right’.


Social Psychology Social Context Education Research Individual Teacher Institutional Weakness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Antonucci, T. 1991Attachment, social support, and coping with negative life events in mature adultsCummings, E.Greene, A.Karraker, K. eds. Life-span Developmental Psychology: Perspectives on Stress and CopingLawrence Erlbaum AssociatesMahwah, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  2. Baggaley, R., Sulwe, J. 1999HIV stress in primary teachers in ZambiaBulletin of the World Health Organization77284288Google Scholar
  3. Benard, B. 1991Fostering resiliency in kids: protective factors in the family, school and communityWestern Center for Drug-Free Schools and CommunitiesPortland, OregonGoogle Scholar
  4. Benmansour, N. 1998Job satisfaction, stress and coping strategies among Moroccan high school teachersMediterranean Journal of Educational Studies31333Google Scholar
  5. Bluett, M. (1998). The contract agenda. The AEU News, 9--12.Google Scholar
  6. Bobek, B. (2002). Teacher resiliency: a key to career longevity. Clearing House, 202--206.Google Scholar
  7. Borg, M.G., Falzon, J.M. 1990Coping actions by Maltese primary school teachersEducational Research325058Google Scholar
  8. Brown, M., Ralph, S., Brember, I. 2002Change-linked work-related stress in British teachersResearch in Education67113Google Scholar
  9. Burns, R. 1994Introduction to Research Methods (2nd edition)Longman CheshireMelbourneGoogle Scholar
  10. Chan, D. 2002Stress, self-efficacy, social support and psychological distress among prospective teachers in Hong KongEducational Psychology22557570Google Scholar
  11. Cherniss, C. 1980aProfessional burnout in human service organizationsPraegerNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Cherniss, C. 1980bStaff burnout: job stress in the human servicesSageBeverly HillsGoogle Scholar
  13. Cheuk, W., Wong, K. 1995Stress, social support and teacher burnout in MacauCurrent Psychology144247Google Scholar
  14. Cockburn, A.D. 1996Primary teachers’ knowledge and acquisition of stress relieving strategiesBritish Journal of Educational Psychology66399410Google Scholar
  15. Consortium on the School-Based Promotion of Social Competence (1994). The school-based promotion of social competence: Theory, research, practice and policy. In R. Haggerty, L.R. Sharrod, N. Garmezy, M. Rutter. (Eds.), Stress, risk and resilience in children and adolescents: processes, mechanisms and interventions. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Della Rocca, A. & Kostanski, M. (2001) Burnout and job satisfaction amongst Victorian secondary school teachers: a comparative look at contract and permanent employment. Paper delivered at the ATEA Conference, Teacher education: change of heart, mind and action, 24--26 September, Melbourne, Victoria.Google Scholar
  17. DETE (S.A.) (South Australian Department of Education, Training and Employment) (2001). The occupational health, safety, welfare and injury management report: June--March 2001, Adelaide: S.A. Govt. Printer.Google Scholar
  18. DETE (S.A.) (South Australian Department of Education, Training and Employment)2000Making positive choices: psychological health strategies for the workplaceCurriculum Resources UnitAdelaideGoogle Scholar
  19. Dewe, P.Leiter, M.Cox, T. eds. 2000Coping, health and organizationsTaylor and FrancisLondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Dinham, S. 1993Teachers under stressAustralian Educational Researcher20116Google Scholar
  21. Dworkin, A., Saha, L.J., Hill, A.N. 2003Teacher burnout and perceptions of a democratic school environmentInternational Education Journal4108120Google Scholar
  22. Gall, M.D., Borg, W. R., Gall, J.P. 1996Educational research: an introductionLongmanNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Garmezy, N. (1985). Stress resistant children: The search for protective factors. In J. Stevenson (Ed.), Recent research in developmental psychology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Book Supplement No. 4).Google Scholar
  24. Gordon, K., Coscarelli, W. 1996Recognising and fostering resiliencePerformance Improvement351417Google Scholar
  25. Gore, S., d Eckenrode, J. 1994‘Context and process in research on risk and resilience’Haggerty, R.Sharrod, L.R.Garmezy, N.Rutter, M. eds. Stress, risk and resilience in children and adolescents: processes, mechanisms and interventionsCambridge University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Griffith, J., Steptoe, A., Cropley, M. 1999An investigation of coping strategies associated with job stress in teachersBritish Journal of Educational Psychology69517531Google Scholar
  27. Guglielmi, R.S., Tatrow, K. 1998Occupational stress, burnout and health in teachers: a methodological and theoretical analysisReview of Educational Research686199Google Scholar
  28. Howard, S.M., Johnson, B.J. 2002Participation and involvement: resilience-promoting factors for young adolescentsGollop, M.McCormack, J. eds. Children and young people’s environmentsChildren’s Issues CentreDunedin, New Zealand113128Google Scholar
  29. Howard, S., Johnson, B. 2000aWhat makes the difference? Children and teachers talk about resilient outcomes for students at riskEducational Studies26321327Google Scholar
  30. Howard, S., Johnson, B. 2000bAn investigation of the role of resiliency-promoting factors in preventing adverse life outcomes during adolescenceUniversity of S.A.AdelaideA Report to The Criminology Research Council of AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  31. Howard, S. & Johnson, B. (2000c). Resilient and non-resilient behaviour in adolescents. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (183).Google Scholar
  32. Howard, S., Johnson, B. 1999Tracking student resilienceChildren Australia241423Google Scholar
  33. Hui, E., Chan, D. 1996Teacher stress and guidance work in Hong Kong secondary school teachersBritish Journal of Guidance and Counselling24199212Google Scholar
  34. Independent Education Union1996Education and Stress. Report on the survey conducted by the Victoria and NSW/ACT Independent Education Union on workloads and perceptions of occupational stress among union members employed in Catholic schools, and Education Offices and in Independent schoolsIEUMelbourneGoogle Scholar
  35. Jacobsson, C., Pousette, A., Thyelfors, I. 2001Managing stress and feelings of mastery among Swedish comprehensive school teachersScandinavian Journal of Educational Research453753Google Scholar
  36. Kay-Cheng, S. 1986Locus of control as a moderator of teacher stress in SingaporeJournal of Social Psychology126257259Google Scholar
  37. Kyriacou, C. 2001Teacher stress: directions for future researchEducational Review532735Google Scholar
  38. Kyriacou, C. 1989The nature and prevalence of teacher stressCole, M.Walker, S. eds. Teaching and stressOpen University PressMilton KeynesGoogle Scholar
  39. Le Compte, M.D., Dworkin, A.G. 1991The who and why of teacher burnoutLeCompte, M.D.Dworkin, A.G. eds. Giving up on schoolCorwin PressNewbury Park, CalifGoogle Scholar
  40. Lincoln, Y., Guba, E. 1985Naturalistic inquirySageBeverly HillsGoogle Scholar
  41. Louden, L.W. 1987Teacher stress: summary report of the joint committee of inquiry into teacher stress appointed by the minister for education and planning in W.A.Govt. PrinterPerth, W.A.Google Scholar
  42. Maslach, C. 1981Burnout: a social psychological analysisJones, J.W. eds. The burnout syndromeLondon House PressPark Ridge IlGoogle Scholar
  43. Maslach, C. 1982Burnout -- The cost of caringPrentice-Hall Inc.Englewood Cliffs, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  44. Masten, A., Best, K., Garmezy, N. 1990‘Resilience and development: contributions from the study of children who overcome adversity’Development and Psychopathology2425444Google Scholar
  45. Morse, J. 1989Strategies for SamplingMorse, J. eds. Qualitative nursing research: a contemporary dialogueAspen PublishersMarylandGoogle Scholar
  46. Otto, R. 1986Teachers under stressHill of ContentMelbourneGoogle Scholar
  47. Patton, M. 1990Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd Edition)Sage PublicationsCaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  48. Pithers, R.T., Soden, R. 1998Scottish and Australian teacher stress and strain: a comparative studyBritish Journal of Educational Psychology68269279Google Scholar
  49. Pithers, R.T., Soden, R. 1999Person-environment fit and teacher stressEducational Research415161Google Scholar
  50. Punch, K.F., Tuetteman, E. 1996Reducing teacher stress: the effects of support in the work environmentResearch in Education566372Google Scholar
  51. QSR (Qualitative Solutions and Research) (1995). NUD$\bullet$IST v4. Bundoora, Victoria.Google Scholar
  52. Rigby, C., Bennett, H. 1996Teacher stress interventions: a comparative studySouth African Journal of Education163845Google Scholar
  53. Rutter, M. 1985Resilience in the face of adversity: protective factors and resistance to psychiatric disorderBritish Journal of Psychiatry147598611Google Scholar
  54. Rutter, M. (1984). Resilient children. Why some disadvantaged children overcome their environments and how we can help. Psychology Today 57--65.Google Scholar
  55. Rutter, M. 1980Changing youth in a changing societyHarvard University PressCambridge, MassGoogle Scholar
  56. Sheffield, D., Dobbie, D., Carroll, D. 1994Stress, social support and psychological and physical wellbeing in secondary school teachersWork and Stress8235243Google Scholar
  57. Schaufeli, W., Daamen, J. 1994Burnout among Dutch teachers: an MBI-validity studyEducational and Psychological Measurement54803813Google Scholar
  58. Silva, P.Stanton, W. eds. 1996From child to adult: the dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study.Oxford University PressAuckland, NZGoogle Scholar
  59. Sinclair, K. 1992Morale, satisfaction and stress in schoolsTurney, C.Hatton, N.Laws, K.Sinclair, K.Smith, D. eds. The school managerAllen and UnwinSydneyGoogle Scholar
  60. Soyibo, K. 1994Occupational stress factors and coping strategies among Jamaican high school science teachersResearch in Science and Technological Education12187193Google Scholar
  61. Horn, J., Schaufeli, W. 1997A Canadian-Dutch comparison of teachers’ burnoutPsychological Reports81371383Google Scholar
  62. Waters, E., Sroufe, L.A. 1983Social competence as a developmental constructDevelopmental Review3779797Google Scholar
  63. Werner, E., Smith, R. 1990Overcoming the odds: high risk children from birth to adulthoodCornell University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  64. Wiersma, W. 1995Research methods in education: an introduction (6th Edition)Allyn and BaconBostonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AustraliaAustralia

Personalised recommendations