Teacher burnout and retention have been significant concerns nationally and locally. One possible contributing factor that remains under-examined is teachers’ exposure to trauma in their personal and professional lives. Teachers can experience multiple trauma exposures including primary trauma, secondary trauma, and collective trauma.

RQ 1: Does traumatic stress affect teachers’ career satisfaction and professional plans? 

RQ 2: What factors in educators’ professional lives are supporting their mental health?

RQ 3: What factors in educators’ professional lives are exacerbating their mental health?


Faculty PIs conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 Southern Nevada ELA teachers. Interviews were transcribed and checked by fellows and research participants before analysis. A multi-stage analysis of interview transcripts will use content analysis and constant comparative methods.

Participant Overview

Gender Identification
Current School Type
Years of Experience

Preliminary Findings

  • Increasing professional responsibility for monitoring student behaviors and mental state
  • Lack of training to address student challenges
  • Lack of structures in place to support students and teachers
  • Conflict between responsibilities for teaching content and managing students’ behaviors
  • Concerns about ability/desire to continue as a teacher for more than a few years (even for teachers close to retirement)
  • School administration plays a large role in feeling supported but notably do not feel supported to address student challenges or their affect on the teachers

Next Steps

Systematic literature review of published research
Larger systematic study based on findings from pilot study
Follow-up case study with teachers who have left the profession

Research Team

Vannessa Heard

PPP 2.0 Research Fellow

Destiny Robinson

A-ARL 2.0 Research Fellow

Jeannette Sanjurjo

A-ARL 2.0 Research Fellow

Joshua Yelle

A-ARL 2.0 Research Fellow

Dr. Kaitlin Clinnin

Principal Investigator

Dr. Chyllis Scott


This research was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Nevada Department of Education to support the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation (NITEP), the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation, Retention, & Research (NIEPRR), and the Nevada Educator Preparation Institute & Collective (NV-EPIC).