A qualitative case study on teacher stress and burnout : discovering lived experiences of teachers in a unique school in Utah.


The education profession is struggling with keeping teachers in the teaching profession and the problem is worsening (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017; Sulit, 2020). Teachers are leaving the profession because of stress and burnout (Aflakseir & Nemati, 2018). Teachers at Water Canyon High School (WCHS) were at risk of burnout and leaving the school. Because of the complex religious history of the economically disadvantaged community and the lack of education, many factors contributed to teachers’ stress and burnout at WCHS. The purpose of this study was to discover lived experiences of teachers at WCHS by exploring what caused them to experience stress and burnout in an underachieving school in Utah and what strategies they practiced to alleviate stress and burnout to improve teachers' overall mental health and well-being and stay at WCHS.

The research design for this problem of practice was a qualitative instrumental single case study design to first discover teachers’ lived experiences with stress and burnout and then to use the PERMA Theory of Well-Being as the theoretical framework to discover how teachers alleviated stress (Seligman, 2011). I used surveys and face-to- face interviews with each participant to gather those experiences. The focus was discovering what teachers indicated caused them stress and what strategies they practiced to alleviate stress for improved mental health and well-being with the intent of teacher retention.

The findings of this study were that teachers at Water Canyon High School had experienced different levels of stress and burnout. Teachers indicated that relationships with students, colleagues and administrators and practicing stress coping strategies and self-care helped alleviate their stress. Teachers also indicated that having meaning and a purpose in their job helped alleviate stress. These findings provided insight into the lived experiences of teachers at WCHS and how they coped with stress. The implications of the study laid the groundwork for school administrators to be aware of the causes of stress, provided evidence of using research-based support strategies, and focused on mental health to improve teacher retention at WCHS and ultimately improve student achievement.