Summer 2023



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Dr. Trish Harvey

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Amy Cochran

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Peter Bailey


Putman-Bailey, B. (2023). Dear education system, it’s you, not me: Burnout in elementary special education teachers. Burnout is not new to the education system as there seems to be a news article around burnout in the teaching profession and the shortage of teachers nationwide. Minnesota is not immune to this problem, but it is particularly true in special education. Special education teacher positions are the most difficult to recruit and retain for school districts in Minnesota. This research focused on the phenomenon of burnout in elementary special education teachers in urban and suburban areas of Minneapolis. The primary research question was Using job demands-resources theory of burnout as a framework, what are the causes of job burnout for public elementary school special education teachers in suburban and urban areas? Through in-depth interviews of six elementary special education teachers, themes of high needs of students, too much paperwork and not enough time to complete it, and being required to complete evaluations were identified as job demands pushing them into burnout. They also identified needing more administrative support in the ways of providing empathy to the special education teacher, observing their classroom more, and trusting their abilities and judgements when working with students with disabilities. The study had a secondary research question of What are the changes that school districts or policymakers should implement that would decrease special education burnout? This was explored through discussion of resources that supported the special education teachers, as well as gathering ideas from the teachers themselves of what they need to continue being a special education teacher.


Leadership, Special Education, Staff Development, Teachers/ Teaching








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