546 Stress in the classroom could be contagious between teachers and students, scientists discover

Speech Materals

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The stress suffered by exhausted teachers could be contagious to their students and have a negative impact on their ability to learn, a landmark study has found.

Students of ‘burned out’ teachers have higher levels of cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress, researchers have discovered.

Higher cortisol levels in elementary school children have been linked to learning difficulties and mental health problems.

Academics at the University of British Columbia have now shown a link between teachers who described being ‘burned out’ and emotionally exhausted and higher cortisol among students.

“This suggests that stress contagion might be taking place in the classroom among students and their teachers,” said Eva Oberle, the study’s lead author.

“It is unknown what came first – elevated cortisol or teacher burnout. We consider the connection between student and teacher stress a cyclical problem in the classroom.

I – Word Understanding

Contagious – can affect others
Burned-out (teachers) – physically and emotionally very tired

II – Have Your Say

1.Teaching is a challenging job but rewarding. Would you ever consider becoming a teacher?

2.Survey data suggests that teaching is considered a ‘high stress’ profession. In your own observation, what do you think are some factors that cause teacher burnout?

3.Do shorter hours or higher wages make better teachers?

546 Stress in the classroom could be contagious between teachers and students, scientists discover

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