Teachers in U.S. elementary and secondary schools are generally happy with their lives, but many are dissatisfied with their work environments.
That's the conclusion drawn from thousands of interviews conducted for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The research reveals that teachers rate their lives better than all but one occupation group--physicians. Teachers working in a K-12 setting have a Life Evaluation Index score of 68.8, and physicians have a score of 74.9.
Teachers also ranked second among professions in the overall Well-Being Index. They scored 73.5, and physicians scored 78.0.
Gallup says the findings are based on more than 170,000 interviews conducted from January through December 2012 with employed Americans at least 18 years of age, including 9,467 K-12 teachers. The Well-Being Index is based on six sub-components: life evaluation, emotional health, healthy behaviors, basic access, work environment and physical health.
In addition to teacher and physician, the other occupation groups rated in the Well-Being Index are farming, fishing or forestry; professional; nurse; business owner; manager, executive or official; construction or mining; installation or repair; clerical or office; sales; manufacturing or production; transportation; and service.
Teachers also scored higher than most other occupation groups in the categories of emotional health, healthy behaviors, basic access and physical health.
"Teachers have high personal well-being, as evidenced by their high life evaluations and emotional well-being scores, and this may prove beneficial to their students and the broader community," Gallup says. "It is unclear whether the relatively higher scores of teachers on several measures of well-being are because working in that profession enhances one's well-being, or if people who have higher well-being in general seek out teaching professions."
But in rating their work environments, teachers were more dissatisfied than other job categories--the 49.9 score for teachers placed it eighth out of 14. Teachers were dead-last --14th -- in saying their "supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open," Gallup says.
"About seven in 10 teachers are 'not engaged' or 'actively disengaged' in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their work environment," Gallup says. "...As teacher engagement is the No. 1 predictor and driver of student engagement, these findings have serious implications for students and administrators."
Gallup concludes that the school systems and communities at large must make workplace improvements for teachers a top priority.
"School and community leaders have important issues to address in the school workplace in order for teachers and students to reach their full potential,' Gallup says. "It is absolutely critical to raise teachers' workplace engagement, because their engagement is the No. 1 predictor and driver of student engagement."
For more information about the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index click on www.well-beingindex.com