ERG SES H 06, Secondary Education
The aim of this presentation is to introduce a field of educational researches yet unknown in Hungary: school-related burnout, identified in the last ten years by a Finnish research group led by Katariina Salmela-Aro. A wide circle of scientists are involved in the study of this new aspect of burnout syndrome - studying not only undergraduates but high school students and comprehensive schools’ pupils as well. Explored earlier by Christina Maslach and her research team, symptoms of work-related burnout as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, cynicism or depersonalization and reduced professional efficacy (Maslach, et al., 2001) were transferred into the world of education as exhaustion caused by school’s demands, cynicism toward the meaning of one’s schoolwork and feeling of in-efficacy as a student (Salmela-Aro, 2008). All these problems are well known in Hungarian schools as well but nobody called it burnout before. We are talking about laziness, lack of motivation, disinterest, school stress and mental diseases and nobody has delt with these symptoms as a whole unit and nobody has connected them with the syndrome of burnout. The interest for the topic comes from the first author's practice as a high school teacher for 25 years, and her permanent stress to help her students in managing themselves across the adolescence and schools’ demands.
There are many researchers from several regions studying background factors of school-related burnout: gender, school achievement, family background, grade and transition from comprehensive to upper schools are identified, as well as teachers’ burnout. We examine similar aspects of school-related burnout, so we have the possibility of cross national comparison. What is new in our studies is the mapping of teachers’ competences needed to avoid their own burnout symptoms and for the prevention, identification and therapy of the one of the students.
In the current research we verify our hypothesis about the existence of this phenomena among Hungarian adolescents and the connection of the burnout syndrome not only with the above listed background variables but with school and classroom motivation, too. We were right to suppose that more students feel the school and classroom climate supporting and motivating, the less they suffer from burnout symptoms.
Our second hypothesis was a belief that the intensity of students’ burnout as well as the school climate depends on the attitude of teachers: teachers with high emotional intelligence and good conflict-solving and coping strategies can prevent school-related burnout. We studied the extent to which teachers are prepared for possible bournout effect of the schoolwork, what are their and their students’ believes and expectations towards teachers and their opinion about responsibility of the teachers. We supposed there was a connection between the students’ burnout and the engagement of the teachers to help the students coping with their own school-related problems and to motivate them thinking positively about their school demands. According to the results, there is a negative correlation between these two phenomena.
The third aim of our researches was to identify the teachers’ competences needed to develop a positive and motivating classroom climate and supporting psychological environment. We realized the students could name all of these competences and most of these competences are listed among the teacher’s competence inventory used for measuring and evaluating them at their schoolwork. So nothing more is needed for developing good coping strategies what we have already known – but this is a big challenge for teacher training and educational policy to manage with
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