- There is a wealth of research on issues surrounding teacher burnout and school reform. The literature on burnout, however, does not provide information on system-based burnout prevention models. Comprehensive reform, although intended to improve schools as a whole, does not look at reform models developed as sources of teacher support. Rather, evaluators of reform models only looked at their efforts to improve student achievement. Essentially, reform models are designed to address governance and organizational factors that promote the development of a supportive school culture conducive to change. When schools create a culture of change, successful reform can occur. This type of school culture best stimulates and supports teachers.
This mixed methods study examines three different reform models used in urban inner-city schools with low socio-economic status to see which type of model best supports teachers and prevents burnout. The three models examined include a Single Subject Reform Model, an Internal Redesign Reform Model, and a Comprehensive School Reform Model. A School Culture Inventory was administered, based on effective school research findings linking school culture to teacher satisfaction, and is designed to identify organizational characteristics that teachers believe schools possess. These characteristics are clustered into six categories: instructional leadership, quality ethic, personal and professional self-worth, recognition of success, and student membership. K-8 Teachers participated in the study with approximately 20-22 teachers in each reform model. Additionally, eight teachers and five principals were interviewed, representing the three models.
The survey data from three different sets of reform model participants showed significant difference in teacher perceptions. Mean scores were compared across each of the reform approaches. Huge variability in the population of data sets was revealed. The study also examines what teachers really need from a professional and organizational perspective to have job satisfaction. Teacher and principal interview data, examined using grounded theory, revealed themes in teacher perceptions, principal beliefs and values. Both the interview and survey data findings strongly indicate that reform models that address school improvement comprehensively may serve as burnout prevention models.