WT Researchers Explore Ways to Combat Teacher Burnout in New Publication

Chip Chandler Nov 16, 2023
  • Research
  • Featured
  • Community
  • Education

WT Researchers Explore Ways to Combat Teacher Burnout in New Publication

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — As worries continue to rise nationwide over teacher shortages, three West Texas A&M University professors recently published research into the importance of self-care in making sure educators can stave off burnout.

“Keeping Your Wits About You: Reframing Self-Care for Teachers” recently was published in “English in Texas: A Journal of the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts” by WT’s Dr. Russell Miller, the Lanna and Bob Hatton Professor of Education and executive director of educator preparation; Dr. Teri Bingham, professor of education; and Dr. Crystal Hughes, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and director of candidate performance; as well as Hayden Maas, a second-grade teacher at Avondale Elementary School in the Amarillo Independent School District.

“Teaching is an emotionally, cognitively, and even physically demanding career choice with benefits that feed the soul but starve the wallet. Some teachers enter the profession like an inferno impacting young lives with fervor, only to have their flame extinguished after a few years,” the researchers wrote. “Others follow a calling that slowly depreciates into a job, they are comfortable in, but passionless about.”

In their article, the researchers point out that 77 percent of teachers have “seriously considered” leaving the profession and 72 percent have taken steps to leave, according to a 2022 survey. That study found that six in 10 planned to move to a different career within five years.

The researchers found that teachers are facing constant changes in expectations, including new curriculums, new trainings and new procedures, as well as higher student-to-teacher ratios. “Finding time for planning is next to impossible,” one surveyed teacher wrote.

Educators also are concerned that their salaries are too often lower than private-sector positions, despite teaching positions requiring degrees and certifications that aren’t required in other fields.

“Given the significant challenges facing educators, attention needs be given to ways current educators maintain their motivation and reframe their mindsets,” the researchers wrote. “Educators need viable ways to balance their lives, and new educators need to see the teaching as a career-oriented vocation.”

The researchers stress that teachers should care for themselves just as they do for their students.

“With careful attention to their own self-care educators may better enjoy their careers, support their students, and continue as career educators,” they wrote. “Reframing the idea of teacher self-care will require a paradigm shift in society. While the idea of putting yourself first may seem abhorrent to many teachers who have dedicated their lives to supporting their student, this paradigm shift grants teachers permission to prioritize their own well-being to maintain a healthy work-life balance.”

The WT researchers all are faculty members in the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences.

WT opened in 1910 as West Texas State Normal College, a school that trained teachers. Today, about 75 percent of all teachers and administrators throughout the Panhandle region have at least one degree or certificate from WT.

Such impactful work is indicative of WT’s status as a Regional Research University, as laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.


Photo: Dr. Teri Bingham, professor of education, is one of three West Texas A&M University faculty members who joined with an Amarillo Independent School District teacher to publish research into preventing teacher burnout.