Teacher burnout occurs when teachers undergoing stress for long periods of time experience emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment (Maslach, 2003). Outcomes associated with burnout include teacher attrition, teacher health issues, and negative student outcomes. Special educators are at high risk for burnout as their working conditions align with many factors associated with burnout. In this review, we updated the literature on special education teacher working conditions by reviewing studies (N = 23) that (a) included a quantitative measure of burnout and (b) focused on special education teachers as participants. An analysis of the studies reviewed provided a clear base of support for the association between burnout and a range of variables from the individual, classroom, school, and district levels. Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) Ecological Model supplied the organizational framework for the range of variables. Teacher experience, student disability, role conflict, role ambiguity, and administrative support were particularly salient factors in special education teacher burnout. Important gaps in the research are discussed, future directions for researchers are outlined, and implications for teachers and other practitioners are provided.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 681-711
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2020
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