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Are New Educators Exposed to a 'Burnout Contagion' in School?

If a new teacher is vulnerable to burnout after only one or two years in the classroom, you can bet lack of administrative support, mentorship, professional development and planning time top the list of culprits. And researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) believe that teacher burnout may, to some degree, be contagious.

Analyzing survey data on burnout of 171 early career educators (less than four years in the classroom) and 289 experienced educators who had relationships with their younger counterparts either as mentors or as colleagues. They found a substantial link between burnout levels in new educators and burnout among their more experienced colleagues.

“When you talked with someone who had a high level of burnout, you were more likely to be burned out,” explains Jihyun Kim, an MSU doctoral student and co-author of the study, along with¬†Kenneth Frank, professor of measurement and quantitative methods in MSU’s College of Education and Peter Youngs, a former MSU scholar now at the University of Virginia.