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Poll: Teachers Rank High on 'Well-Being'

Teachers top all other professionals except for physicians in overall well-being, according to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

"Never mind the media reports that make teaching in America look like a horrible job, it may be one of the best careers for a person's wellbeing," Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, and Shane Lopez, Gallup Senior Scientist, wrote in a blog post on the findings.

The results are based on interviews conducted with 170,000 U.S. adults, including 9,467 K-12 teachers, between January and December 2012. Participants responded to 55 items concerning their physical, emotional, and financial health.

Teachers also rank 2nd, again below only physicians, in the areas of emotional health, life evaluations, and basic access (including access to food, housing, and healthcare)—three of the six components of well-being as measured by the survey. Within emotional health, teachers were more likely than any other occupational group to say they had "smiled or laughed a lot yesterday," with 88 percent indicating so.

However, teachers were also second only to physicians in stress levels, with 47 percent reporting they experience stress daily.

In the areas of healthy behaviors and physical health, teachers also scored fairly high, ranking 3rd and 5th, respectively, out of the 14 professions listed.

But in the area of "work environment," teachers scored much lower. They ranked 8th out of 14 professions in this category, below "farming, fishing, or forestry," "construction or mining," and nursing.

Fifty-eight percent of teachers said their supervisor treats them as a partner, placing them below five other occupations on the measure. And teachers ranked last among the 14 professions in indicating their "supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open."

Gallup released the findings in a series of articles on its website. In one blog post, Lopez and Gallup content manager Preety Sidhu point out that "it is unclear whether the relatively higher scores of teachers on several measures of wellbeing are because working in that profession enhances one's wellbeing, or if people who have higher wellbeing in general seek out teaching professions."

According to the recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 82 percent of teachers said they are either somewhat or very satisfied with their work, though the percentage of very satisfied teachers has been on the decline in recent years.

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