Psychological Safety Among K-12 Educators: Patterns Over Time, and Associations with Staff Well-Being and Organizational Context

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Psychological safety is a psychosocial construct that reflects an individual's perception of social risk in the work environment, and is related to employee performance and well-being, including job satisfaction and burnout. Psychological safety remains relatively understudied among educators, including its patterns over time and relationships with other aspects of the school environment. This study explored patterns of psychological safety over 4 years among 769 staff at 20 rural K-12 schools, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associations of these patterns with work-associated well-being and organizational context outcomes. Repeated measures latent profile analyses identified a 3-class solution of stable-high (51.0%), stable-medium (44.8%), and dynamic-low (4.2%) psychological safety classes. Those in the stable-high class had consistently better outcomes, including less burnout and greater self-efficacy, and better perceived organizational context and climate, compared to other classes. Among educators, psychological safety is generally stable, and reliably differentiates other important outcomes. Interventions fostering greater psychological safety may improve perceptions of the school environment and reduce burnout.