What Makes Teachers Well?

A Mixed Methods Study of Special Education Teacher Well-being





teacher well-being, school climate, special education, mixed methods research, person-environment fit, dual factor model of mental health


Using a longitudinal convergent-mixed-methods approach, researchers explored how secondary special education teachers understand and experience well-being in their work as educators. Researchers were interested in how teachers’ reported levels of well-being, as well as interpretations of well-being, shifted over the course of the school year. Evidence from this study suggests that teachers’ subjective experiences matter, but the contexts in which they teach can shift their experiences, which may be connected to overall well-being. Simply reducing stressors and/or burnout will not necessarily result in improved well-being for teachers. School-wide efforts to improve relationships within the school building, providing space for teacher leadership, explicitly naming shared values, and recognizing the emotional calendar of the school year may facilitate teachers’ well-being.


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Author Biographies

Harriet B. Fox, George Washington University, USA

HARRIET B. FOX, M.A., is a Ph.D. Candidate at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development.  Her major research interests include teacher well-being, school climate, and special education.  Email: halliefox@gwu.edu  

Elizabeth D. Tuckwiller, George Washington University, USA

ELIZABETH D. TUCKWILLER, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Special Education and Disability Studies, George Washington University. Dr. Tuckwiller engages in interdisciplinary translational research to inform innovative approaches in special education.  Email: btuckwiller@gwu.edu

Elisabeth L. Kutscher, George Washington University, USA

ELISABETH L. KUTSCHER, Ed.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Special Education and Disability Studies at The George Washington University. Her research emphasizes the development of strength-focused environments that support youth and youth adults with disabilities. Email: ekutscher@gwu.edu

Heather L. Walter, George Washington University, USA

HEATHER L. WALTER, Ed.D., is a Visiting Instructor of Special Education and Disability Studies for the Early Childhood Special Education Graduate Program at The George Washington University. Her major researcher interests include early childhood special education and teacher well-being. Email: hwalter@gwu.edu


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How to Cite

Fox, H. B. ., Tuckwiller, E. D. ., Kutscher, E. L. ., & Walter, H. L. (2021). What Makes Teachers Well? A Mixed Methods Study of Special Education Teacher Well-being. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 9(2), 223–248. https://doi.org/10.32674/jise.v9i2.2170