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According to Gallup teachers fare better than other professionals in well-being

Original results of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found business owners ranked the highest in well-being until Gallup decided to ask a follow up question.  According to Lopez and Agrawal in their December 23, 2009 report entitled, Teachers Score Higher Than Other Professionals in Well-Being, at www.gallup.com, teachers are usually included in the "professional worker" category, but a new category was created from other professionals when Gallup asked "are you currently a teacher in a public or private school (at any level, secondary, elementary, college, pre-school)?

The data collected between July 2008 and June 2009 found that teachers bumped out business owners by either scoring the highest, or tying for the top spot among all 12 job types in how they viewed their overall well-being. 

The areas included how they evaluated their lives, whether they felt they had access to resources needed to live a healthy life, emotional health, and their likelihood to engage in healthy behaviors.  As Lopez and Agrawal noted, the results shed light on a variety of benefits and drawbacks to the teaching profession.  Below are a few of the highlights of the report.

1.  Teachers view life with more optimism

This was determined by The Life Evaluation Index, which is based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale, where people were asked to rank their present and future lives on a scale of 0 - 10.  According to their scores, teachers were at the top of the list.

2.  Teachers have access to lead a healthy life

Teachers tied with managers/executives/officials/ and non-teaching professionals on the Basic Access Index, which measures, "access to resources and services needed to lead a healthy life" including access to food, shelter, and a safe and satisfying place to live.

3.  Teachers tied for top in emotional health

According to the report, a high level of emotional health involves more positive daily experiences such as smiling, laughing, learning, or doing something interesting, as well as more positive than negative emotions and no history of depression.  A startling statistic reported from this index was that, "87% of teachers said they smiled or laughed a lot yesterday."

4.  Teachers have healthy behaviors

Teachers ranked "near the top" on the Healthy Behavior Index which, "measures four behaviors strongly linked to health:eating healthy, smoking (scored in reverse), weekly consumption of fruits and vegetables, and weekly exercise frequency."

5. Teachers do not report best work environments

This index measures satisfaction with jobs, if they get to use their strengths, if their supervisor treats them as a boss or partner, and if the environment is open and trusting.  Teachers and professionals were both far behind business owners in this category, as business owners are more likely to be able to control their environment in relation to the areas measured.  This area actually has strong implications for students, as it was reported that  "teachers who are given the opportunity to do what they do best at work (91% say they get to use their strengths at work) may be more likely to engage students in the learning process."

6.  Teachers are as physically healthy as most other professions

While not in first spot, teachers were close to the top in their response to an index that addressed chronic and daily illnesses.  Interestingly, while teachers were more likely to report having a cold than the flu, it was actually service workers who were the most likely to report having a cold yesterday than all other professions reporting.

While teachers did score very highly on a number of well-being measurements, it is interesting to look at whether the career is the cause of the well-being or if people who have higher levels of well-being are naturally drawn to the profession. 

Please  share your comments below:

Is the teaching profession set up to enable teachers to build up their areas of well-being? 

Are people who are drawn to the profession healthier, more positive persons? 

How does this impact student learning?

For further conversation and dialogue around each of these areas go to The Whole Teacher Blog, where we will be examining each indicator on an individual level.

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