Mind the Teacher

Welcome to the official website of Mind the Teacher, a five-episode podcast miniseries devoted to understanding and addressing the challenges posed by poor mental health in schools, particularly among teachers. Join hosts Seth Gershenson of American University and Steve Holt of SUNY Albany as they discuss the scientific research and perspectives of various stakeholders on the causes, consequences, and best responses to poor mental health in the teaching profession and in schools more generally. This podcast is generously supported by the Spencer Foundation and the website by American University’s School of Public Affairs. Below you will find links to the episodes themselves, podcast transcripts, guest bios, and relevant articles and further reading.

Episode 1: Mental Health Matters

Episode 1 Transcript

Hosts Seth and Steve introduce themselves and the topic of the podcast: mental health in schools. Two guests, Professors Eisenberg and Biasi, discuss how we conceptualize mental health and what we know about the determinants and consequences of poor mental health.

The article that we discussed in this episode of Mind the Teacher is available for download from the NBER here.

Daniel Eisenberg
Professor of Health Management and Policy, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Daniel Eisenberg is a Professor of Health Policy of Management in Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. His broad research goal is to improve understanding of how to invest effectively in the mental health of young people. He directs the Healthy Minds Network (HMN) for Research on Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health (www.healthymindsnetwork.org). This research network administers the Healthy Minds Study, a national survey study of student mental health and related factors, and facilitates the development, testing, and dissemination of innovative programs and interventions for student mental health. He is currently writing a book about investments in children’s mental health, in collaboration with Ramesh Raghavan. You can learn more about his research here.

Barbara Biasi
Visiting Assistant Professor at EIEF, Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale School Of Management, and Faculty Research Fellow at NBER
Barbara Biasi is a labour economist doing work on education, inequality, and creativity. Her current work includes various topics related to teachers' labour markets, the long-run effects of school finance equalization, and the effect of mental health on labour market outcomes. She holds a PhD from Stanford University.

You can learn more about her research here: www.barbarabiasi.com.


Episode 2: A Teacher's Perspective on Mental Health

Episode 2 Transcript

In this episode we talk to an award-winning, longtime public school teacher in Massachusetts about his experiences in the classroom, in the teachers' union, and in various leadership positions in the school -- and how these experiences have shaped his views on how to best support teachers at every stage of their careers.

Articles cited in discussion:

Stephen Guerriero
Social Studies Teacher
High Rock Middle School, Needham Massachusetts
Vice President for Communications of the Needham Education Association

Stephen is a vocal advocate for the rights and inclusion of LGBTQ students and staff in all aspects of educational policy, for resources to support student and teacher mental wellness, and for anti-racism and equity in our schools. Stephen has 20 years teaching ancient history, archaeology, and Classical Studies, has participated in archaeological digs in Greece and Italy, and is a member of the Educator Advisory Board of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Stephen earned a BA in International Relations and Italian Studies from Boston University, an MEd from Boston College, and an MA in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies from Brandeis University.

Professional Link



Episode 3: Teachers are special, but is their mental health?

Episode 3 Transcript

In this episode we review the research on how teachers' mental health compares to that of similar people in other professions, both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. We discuss our own research on the topic, which uses data from the US and is what motivated the creation of this podcast, as well as researchers from University College London who've been conducting similar research in the UK and other OECD countries. Then we close the episode with a conversation with discussion of the most recent survey data available to see how things have changed in the past year and half.

Dr. Sam Sims is a Lecturer in the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO) at University College London's (UCL) Institute of Education. His research focuses on teachers and teaching.

John Jerrim is a Professor in the Social Research Institute (SRI) at UCL's Institute of Education. His research focuses on international comparisons of educational achievement, wellbeing, educational assessment and educational inequalities. You can learn more about this research here. For further reading, see:

  • Jerrim, J., & Sims, S. (In Press). School accountability and teacher stress: international evidence from the OECD TALIS study. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11092-021-09360-0
  • Jerrim, J., & Sims, S. (In Press). Has the mental health and wellbeing of teachers in England changed over time? New evidence from three datasets. Oxford Review of Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2021.1902795
  • Jerrim, J., & Sims, S. (2021). When is high workload bad for teacher wellbeing? Accounting for the non-linear contribution of specific teaching tasks. Teaching and Teacher Education, 105, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2021.103395
  • Sims, S., Jerrim, J. , & Taylor, H. (2021). Is teaching bad for your health? New evidence from biomarker data. Oxford Review of Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2021.1908246
  • Jerrim, J., Sims, S., & Taylor, H. (2021). I quit! Is there an association between leaving teaching and improvements in mental health? British Educational Research Journal, 47(3), 692-724.
  • Sims, S., & Jerrim, J. (2020). TALIS 2018: Teacher working conditions, turnover and attrition. Department for Education. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873922/Teaching_and_Learning_International_Survey_2018_March_2020.pdf
  • Allen, R., Benhenda, A., Jerrim, J., & Sims, S. (2020). New evidence on teachers’ working hours in England. An empirical analysis of four datasets. Research Papers in Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/02671522.2020.1736616
  • Jerrim, J., Sims, S., Taylor, H., & Allen, B. (2020). How does the mental health and wellbeing of teachers compare to other professions? Evidence from eleven survey datasets. Review of Education, 8(3), 659-689.
  • Zieger, L., Jerrim, J., & Sims, S. (2019). Comparing teachers’ job satisfaction across countries. A multiple-pairwise measurement invariance approach. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 38(3), 75-85.

The datasets discussed in this portion of the episode can be found here (TALIS) and here (NLS).

The synthesis of principal research mentioned is available here.

Elizabeth Steiner is a Policy Researcher. Her research is focused on ways to improve public education in the U.S., reduce racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps, and improve equity of educational and life outcomes. Her work addresses implementation of education reforms and policies – how systems of rules and incentives intended to encourage behavior toward a desired outcome function in practice, and how policies could be improved to promote desired outcomes. Current research topics include educator well-being, social and emotional learning, personalized and competency-based learning, teacher and school leader professional development, and postsecondary education financing.

The report that we discussed in her segment is available here.

Episode 4: Racial Disparities in Mental Health

Episode 4 Transcript

This episode begins with a discussion of racial disparities in mental health, working conditions, and in the impact of the pandemic. Our first guest, Dr. Travis Bristol of UC Berkeley, is an expert on teacher labor markets, specifically teachers' workplace experiences, teacher retention, and the role of race and gender in educational settings; he shares his insights on the general challenges faced by teachers of color, and how those challenges were in some ways exacerbated by the pandemic. We also talk about parents' mental health during the pandemic with Dr. Alberto Ortega of Indiana University, who notes that while schools were closed many parents became de facto educators.

Articles cited in this discussion:

Alberto Ortega, Assistant Professor in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University

Dr. Alberto Ortega is an Assistant Professor in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. His past work examined racial and ethnic disparities in educational outcomes. His research has recently focused on access to health care and health outcomes, including substance use, mental health, and mortality resulting from victimization. Find more about his research here.

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Bristol's research is situated at the intersection of educational policy and teacher education, specifically the role of educational policies in shaping teacher workplace experiences and retention. He is currently co-editing (with Conra Gist) the Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers, which will be published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Dr. Bristol has been awarded dissertation and postdoctoral fellowships from both the Ford Foundation and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. Learn more about his research here.

Episode 5: How to Help Teachers

Episode 5 Transcript

In this fifth and final episode hosts Steve and Seth start by reviewing the main themes raised throughout the podcast regarding the importance of mental health in schools, how mental health has been affected by the pandemic, and how these effects vary across socio-demographic groups. Then, they turn their attention to how schools, communities, and policy makers can address these concerns by making specific recommendations for change at both the individual (trainings and interventions) and organizational (school policy and practice) levels.

Articles cited in this discussion:

Matt Barnum, National reporter, Chalkbeat

Matt Barnum is a national reporter at Chalkbeat, where he covers education policy and research. Previously he was a staff writer at The 74, the policy director for Educators for Excellence -- New York, and a middle school language arts teacher in Colorado. Learn more about Matt's reporting here.