EDUCATIONAL WORKER – Community & Unique Work

Educational workers, including teachers, educational assistants, school administrators, and system leaders provide unique emotional labour to the children and youth in their communities.

When you’re a principal, you walk into a building, and you inherit the group that’s there, and you work with them and do the best you can. For me, the reason I do what I do and the reason I continue getting out of bed, even though I’m exhausted, is because I love the people in this building. I love them. So, for me, when they’re suffering, it affects me profoundly, like I’m suffering. If someone comes to me and says, “This or that happened,” and they’re upset, I’ll try to hold it together. But then the minute they leave, or the minute I get home, I’m the one who’s falling in a mess.

Research Study Participant
Compassion Satisfaction

Compassion Satisfaction is the joy and intrinsic rewards that educational workers feel from their daily work.

Compassion Stress and Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Stress and Compassion Fatigue may result from providing crisis and trauma work to children, youth, or colleagues in learning environments.

Emotional Labour 

Emotional labour in educational settings is provided by educational workers to create safe, caring, and joyous learning environments for children and youth.

The Compassion Continuum – A Conceptual Model of Compassion in Educational Workers

Educational workers can build their compassion satisfaction by:

  • Building empathetic relationships with the children and youth in their schools. 
  • Through experience: the more time educators spend working with children and youth, the more internal and external resources they build which makes them more effective with providing emotional labour.
  • Having a positive worldview and feeling that they are appreciated and valued by the wider community and local governments. 
  • Educational workers wish to have a positive, long-term impact on the students with whom they work.
  • Acknowledgement of their HEARTwork: Educational workers are drawn to the field they love for working with students or their love and expertise in a subject area. 
  • They are energized by caring for the educational needs of children and youth and passing their knowledge to the next generation.

Occupational Hazards for Educational Caregivers

Crisis Work

Working with or supervising children and youth during a crisis such as a fire, flood, or violent event.

Trauma Work

Counseling or listening to a child, youth, or colleague describing a traumatic event, such as domestic violence, suicide ideation, or family loss.


The symptoms of physical and emotional fatigue, lack of appreciation, and depersonalization built over time resulting because of workplace conditions.

These occupational hazards can be intensified by:

Toxic Workplace

Lack of collegial relations and opportunities for growth and career advancement

Workplace harassment or bullying by community members

Inattentiveness to working conditions

Lack of Training

lack of ongoing evidence-based training about the signs and symptoms of compassion stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout.

Over-reliance on self-initiative to learn about these occupational hazards.

Lack of a plan to reduce symptoms of burnout or compassion fatigue.


Loss of passion or interest in work

Teaching or work assignment outside of personal areas of strength or interest

Feeling unable or helpless to meet the needs of students

Loss of funding or supports for education systems resulting in job or program cuts

Spoken Voice Poem by Art Contest Honorable Mention Juleta Severson-Baker
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Photo by Faith Giant on

These occupational hazards can be prevented and reduced by enacting your HEARTcare Plan.

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