Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Teacher Burnout; Self-efficacy; Disruptive Student Behavior

Major Advisor

Sarah L. Woulfin

Associate Advisor

Jennie M. Weiner

Associate Advisor

Rachael E. Gabriel

Field of Study

Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)


Doctor of Education

Open Access

Open Access


This qualitative collective case study sought to explain rural public elementary school teachers’ feelings of self-efficacy and burnout when managing student behaviors, their perceptions of student behaviors, why these perceptions exist, and strategies used, if any, that may result in increased feelings of self-efficacy and/or decreased feelings of burnout. Results indicate that teachers overwhelmingly felt the trauma affecting some students outside of school significantly limited their ability to improve student outcomes within the school setting. They felt these impacting factors are a growing problem for which they are ill-equipped to resolve. Their responses also indicated a belief that certain students are incapable of maintaining appropriate behavior in the classroom as a result of their life circumstances, no matter the behavioral strategies used.

On this note, and regardless of their number of years in the profession, grade level taught, or school where they teach, the teacher respondents described many of the behavioral strategies they use as ineffective, fail to extinguish student misbehavior, and may even unintentionally escalate it over time. The results of this study indicate, however, that although student behaviors may contribute to teacher burnout in rural settings, they are but one of a combination of factors contributing to teachers’ feelings of burnout. Such factors include, but are not limited to, a reduction in supports and resources, an overall increase in student need and trauma, and increased expectations and accountability. Additionally, these rural teachers may be unintentionally relying on a deficit perspective as an explanation for their lack of success with some of their students.