Special education teachers’ experienced burnout and perceived fit with the professional community: A 5-year follow-up study

T. Soini (Lead / Corresponding author), Janne Pietarinen, Kirsi Pyhalto, K. Haverinen, D. Jindal-Snape (Lead / Corresponding author), E. Kontu

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In many countries, including in Finland, promoting inclusive school practices supporting pupils’ equal rights for learning is at the foci of the school development. The special education teachers play a central intermediary role in developing inclusive school and classroom practices by providing support both for pupils and peer teachers. This may increase their risk for experiencing exhaustion, cynicism towards the teacher community and/or inadequacy in the pupil-teacher relationship. However, resources of the school’s social working environment experienced as a functional teacher–working environment fit may buffer the special education teacher’s risk for developing burnout. The study aims
to gain a better understanding on interrelation between and development of special education teachers’ experienced burnout symptoms and perceived teacher–working environment fit across time. The longitudinal study included two measurements (in year 2010 n=760 and 2016 n=485). The results showed that special education teachers’ experienced inadequacy in the pupil-teacher relationship predicted teacher exhaustion, cynicism towards the teacher community and inadequacy in the pupil-teacher relationship five years later. Moreover, the perceived good teacher-working environment fit predicted lower cynicism towards the teacher community five years later.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-639
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
Early online date10 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019



  • burnout
  • special education teacher
  • teacher–working environment fit

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