Education Doctorate

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Nagel, Judith

Second Reader

Krista Soria, Marla Hall


There is a serious problem worldwide as a result of the continuing decline in teacher retention rates. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States fell short of the required teaching staff; this decrease perpetuated the national special education teacher shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic brought education to the forefront of many homes and school districts as families and educators shifted to virtual learning formats from their homes. With increased job demands and ever-evolving state and federal special education mandates, COVID-19 likely exacerbated an already bubbling teacher shortage. Although there has been research on special education teachers’ burnout, little has been done in the wake of the new post-pandemic world. This exploratory qualitative study investigated the lived experiences of special education teachers in one Midwest public school district in order to identify themes of the effect COVID-19 has had on job-related stress and burnout. Utilizing the Job Demand-Resource model and Maslach’s burnout model, this exploratory study revealed 100% of participants had experienced an increase in job demands due to COVID-19 and had reported feelings of job-related stress. While this exploratory study had a limited sample of five educators, it is noteworthy that only two participants reported experiencing burnout over the last three years; however, generalization cannot be determined due to the small sample size. Further research examining the relationship between the increase in job demands since the start of COVID-19 and special education teacher job-related stress could reveal increased levels of burnout and a wider variety of resources that could be duplicated to mitigate burnout and stress.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation