When teaching hurts: Exploring the secondary traumatic stress experiences of early-career SBAE teachers

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Sources of satisfaction, stress, and burnout are all-too-familiar to school-based agricultural education (SBAE) teachers. Yet, the current literature related to SBAE stress has not addressed the overwhelming existence of trauma in our greater society. Teacher wellbeing can be compromised when students share their own adversities and traumatic experiences, thus producing secondary traumatic stress (STS). To lay a foundation for inquiry, we used the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) survey and scale to quantify and draw attention to STS. In this study, we found early-career SBAE teachers (n = 49) in Oregon experienced moderate levels of STS along with STS being a significant positive predictor of burnout. Given our findings, we urge scholars and practitioners to recognize the implications student trauma has on the lives of teachers. Students carry invisible wounds to the SBAE classroom, which inextricably transfers to the teachers caring for them. Secondary exposure to trauma is salient to the experiences of teachers. Left unattended to, STS could result in severe implications for the individual as well as the profession.

Teacher stress, Wellbeing, Secondary traumatic stress, Early-career teachers