You have to be well to teach well. It’s a motto that guides Teresa McIntyre as she investigates middle school teacher stress and its impact on student achievement. McIntyre is a research professor in the University of Houston department of psychology and the Texas Institute for Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics (TIMES).
“It is very important to know what causes teachers to be stressed in the classroom, in and out of the classroom,” said McIntyre. “How does stress impact their health, how they behave with students, how they instruct, the quality of teaching as well as student behavior and student achievement.”
Her innovative study follows 200 Houston middle school science and math teachers in a three-year study that will lead to intervention strategies. Using an iPod touch, teachers will record their moods during various times of the school year, including the days leading up to standardized tests.
“We expect to find some relationship between the level of stress that teachers feel and their sickness related absenteeism. Also that they’d be less satisfied with their job and their intention to stay in that job would be lower,” she said.
Additionally, a quarter of the teachers will wear heart and blood pressure monitors to capture the physiological impact of stressful days in the classroom. McIntyre says this study is about supporting teachers and the rich data that the study yields about teacher stress and effectiveness will also support administrators.
“This is a kind of a study that puts the focus back on teachers,” she said. “For people to understand—and administrators to understand—that teacher health is important to teacher quality.”
Teresa McIntyre is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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