Teacher Stress: Implications for Teaching, Learning, and Coping

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Keay, Briden
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This study examined the personal experiences of teachers who are new to the field along with teachers who are more experienced in the field with regard to their perceptions of stress in the school setting. Ten teachers were interviewed to discuss their personal experiences with stress. The teachers worked in high schools in rural settings. Four teachers had less than ten years of experience teaching, while six had more than ten years of experience in the profession. Participants were interviewed and asked questions surrounding causes of stress and coping strategies. Participants were also asked to discuss their feelings toward support they receive for stress. The interviews were tape recorded and the tapes were transcribed verbatim, coded, and analyzed using a descriptive, qualitative design. Three main themes were identified throughout the interviews including, teacher’s perceptions of stress, root causes of stress, and how teachers cope with and are supported when feeling stressed. The interviews indicated that there is an elevated amount of stress in the profession due to changing dynamics and work demands in the profession. Specifically, participants noted the lack of time, additional paper work, the emphasis on meeting provincial testing standards, lack of involvement in policy making, and lack of support in teaching students with diverse abilities as their main stressors. Furthermore, teachers emphasized concern regarding the lack of funding to support students with varying needs and felt that they could not properly support all students without additional programming supports and personnel. Differences in responses between newly experienced and experienced teachers were minimal; however, it was evident that there were slightly different perspectives in some areas. More specifically, newly experienced teachers had slightly different views on causes and supports for stress. There were also many similarities in responses among participants indicating that stress is far reaching in the profession. Lack of supports and effective coping strategies for helping teachers deal with stress emerged as a significant issue. Results of this study indicate that teacher stress is an area of concern that is in need of significant attention. By identifying causes of stress, it is hoped that supports can be utilized in a preventative manner to help teachers cope with stress on the job. Overall, responses from teachers indicated that in many cases they felt very vulnerable in their teaching roles. Perceived lack of services and supports coupled with other’s attitudes regarding stress left them feeling exposed and unsupported. Given these feelings, it is important that all parties involved begin to collaborate in further efforts to create awareness and support for teacher stress concerns. Within this process, school psychologists can take on an active role by supporting students and teachers through direct and indirect servicing.
Stress , New Teachers , Experienced Teachers