School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Matthew Ozolnieks


Coping, COVID-19, Mental Health, Stress, Teachers


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe elementary public school teachers’ experiences coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Lazarus and Folkman’s transactional model of stress and coping theory, the study answered the central research question: How do elementary public school teachers describe their experiences coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic? The sub-questions addressed: What psychological, physical, and emotional mechanisms are elementary public school teachers using to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic? Purposeful sampling and maximum variation sampling were used to select 14 elementary public school teachers’ who experienced teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. The setting of the study was North Texas Independent School District. The data collection methods used included participant journaling, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group. The data was analyzed using Moustakas’s data analysis which began with epoché, then transcendental-phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and synthesis of composite textural and composite descriptions. Two themes were identified through data analysis which included teacher stress and teacher coping mechanisms. Findings indicated that teachers had faced much adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic in ways such as students, technology, and instruction; however, they have been resilient throughout the pandemic. Psychological, physical, and emotional coping mechanisms have helped teachers cope with their stress. Implications for research suggested that helping teachers find adequate outlets to cope with their stress could be effective. Recommendations for future research are provided.