Is Teacher Well-Being Possible?

As an educator, have you ever wondered what is teacher well-being?

  • How do you define it?
  • Is it based on your personality?
  • What influences teacher flourishing?
  • What decisions do teachers make that affect their professional well-being?
  • And for us as Christian educators, what is a Biblical foundation for teacher professional well-being?

If you follow teachers on Instagram or Facebook, you will find a variety of perspectives from credible educators who take time to establish a social media presence. It seems that essentially all of them talk about how hard the teaching profession is and how much they love certain aspects of it.


Yet it’s not unusual for teachers to describe extreme difficulties, without offering solutions. It’s also not unusual for them to talk about how little support they receive from their leaders or school/district.

I get a sense that the professional well-being of teachers is at stake, regardless of whether they are public or private, primary or secondary, or experienced or not.


Because of my love for the craft of teaching and for Christian education, I wanted to know the answers to those questions. I set out to study the well-being of Christian educators in Arizona a couple years ago as the focus of a doctoral dissertation. I had the honor to survey ACSI teachers from across Arizona and to interview six incredibly
talented and passionate people. What I found may—or may not—surprise you. However, more on that later, as I must lay down the foundation of the study for context.

More often than not, teachers are described or self-characterized as burnt-out. With frenetic, underchallenged, and worn out as the primary indicators, teachers exhibit exhaustion, cynicism, and professional inefficacy (Farber, 1991). Yet if you know me, I am a positive person. I cannot remember a time in my 30-plus year career as a Christian school educator when I felt truly “burnt-out.” There’s much to my story, yet as God has redeemed me and restored me, (Psalm 18:19; Romans 2:4), I have found deep joy in struggle and adversity while maintaining a positive perspective. I began to wonder if this positivity was a clue to being able to describe teacher professional well- being.

For my research study, I had to frame my methods on a theory, and work towards either confirming or disconfirming it (or both). I carefully chose a theoretical framework that could align with a Christian worldview and be one that I would be willing to live by.

My model for flourishing is called PERMA, or positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

Described by positive psychologist Martin Seligman (2011), PERMA has become an alternative to describe human flourishing, as opposed to the negative construct of burnout. As I did more research I wondered, as volitional beings what would it look like to engage behaviors that promote thriving, as opposed to just eliminating stress and burnout (Spreitzer et al., 2005).

In my study, I was able to answer that question!

So, this is my invitation to you: will you walk with me in a blog series that unpacks PERMA from a Christian worldview?

Each subsequent post will reveal the role of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment as I share my findings regarding your colleagues. My hope is that you will not only have a new glimpse of professional flourishing, yet also some solutions on how to intentionally promote it. I will also welcome questions and feedback on the PERMA model and whether it aligns with a Christian worldview and Christian education.


Ultimately, my prayer is that this series will simply allow us to consider:

Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8


I look forward to our journey together! Meanwhile, peace be with you as you engage the rigor of second term.




Farber, B. A. (1991). Symptoms and types: Worn-out, frenetic, and underchallenged
teachers. In B. A. Farber (Ed.), Crisis in education: Stress and burnout in the American teacher (pp. 72–97). Jossey-Bass.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.

Spreitzer, G., Sutcliffe, K., Dutton, J., Sonenshein, S., & Grant, A. M. (2005). A socially embedded model of thriving at work. Organization Science, 16(5), 537–549.