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STRESS, BURNOUT & SUPPORT. DR JOEL ROACHE. OVERVIEW. In the U.K. approx. 500,000 workers experience illness as a result of work-related stress and up to 5,000,000 people feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work, with an economic cost of £3.7 Billion per year.

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Overview
OVERVIEW

In the U.K. approx. 500,000 workers experience illness as a result of work-related stress and up to 5,000,000 people feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work, with an economic cost of £3.7 Billion per year.

A study conducted for the Times Educational Supplement in 1997 found that 37% of secondary vacancies and 19% of primary vacancies were due to ill-health.

In a study of 25,000 professionals, teachers ranked:

  • second behind ambulance officers with worse than average physical health;

  • second behind care providers in respect to poor psychological well-being;

  • sixth behind prison officers, ambulance officers, police, call centre workers, and care providers for levels of job satisfaction.

    Emotional labour is an important facet of the experience of occupational stress


Sources of stress
SOURCES OF STRESS

Sources of stress:

  • factors intrinsic to the job [e.g. work overload];

  • role in organization [e.g. role ambiguity or conflict];

  • career development [e.g. lack of job security];

  • work relationships [e.g. poor collegiate support];

  • and organizational structure/climate [e.g. little involvement in decision making.

    Teachers are subject to higher stress levels than other comparable professions and higher than neurotic patients for that matter.

    National Occupational Health and Safety Commission estimated of the cost of stress in Australia at $105.5 million in 2000–2001 .


Beginning teachers attrition
BEGINNING TEACHERS & ATTRITION

Attrition rates in Aust.: 25 - 30% after three years, to 50% in some KLA’s after 5 years [U.S. 29% after 3 years; 39% after 5 years; U.K. 40% after 3 years].

29.6% of beginning teachers do not see themselves teaching in Australian public schools for more than 5 years - 55.5% of these will leave for another industry.

Significant associations between early career turnover intention and burnout in teachers have been found in Australia and OECD countries, as have links between stress and teacher retention.

Beginning Teachers top 4 concerns [3 years running]:

  • Workload - 60.4%;

  • Pay - 59.8%;

  • Behaviour Management - 55.5% [1st for Secondary - 65.2%];

  • Class Sizes - 54.8%.


Stressors
STRESSORS

Stress - the experience of unpleasant emotions, such as tension, frustration, anxiety, anger and depression, resulting from work as a teacher.

“…for heuristic purposes we can divide causal factors in teacher stress into three broad areas; factors intrinsic to teaching, cognitive factors affecting the individual vulnerability of teachers and systematic factors operating at the institutional and political level.” [Pisanti et.al., 2003].



Impact of stress on teachers
IMPACT OF STRESS ON TEACHERS

Wider effects of stress and burnout: stress effects a teacher’s students, colleagues, family, and the education itself.

Burnout causing departure from teaching represents a significant loss from a profession already under pressure from restructuring, low social recognition, an aging work force, and difficulties in recruiting.

The impact of stress is not uniform across individuals, rather it depends upon characteristics of the individual [‘set’] and upon aspects and features of the social environment [‘setting’].


Impact of stress on teachers1
IMPACT OF STRESS ON TEACHERS

An individual’s repertoire of coping behaviours may include:

  • Resignation and reward substitution;

  • Selectively ignoring or avoiding stressful events;

  • Planful problem solving and active advice seeking;

  • Depersonalising stressful events and use of positive comparisons;

  • Time management, relaxation, delegation, assertiveness & communication skills; &

  • Access to professional and personal support networks and significant relationships.


Consequences of stress
CONSEQUENCES OF STRESS

Burnout - the syndrome of cynicism and emotional exhaustion in response to chronic stress, linked to teacher attrition.

“These techniques have a number of inherent limitations; for instance, the fear that reports of finding the job highly stressful or of finding, say, pupil misbehaviour a major source of stress might be indicative of the respondent’s incompetence as a teacher.” [Borg,1990].



The structure of stress
THE STRUCTURE OF STRESS

Stress processes vary due to demographics, personality variables, work expectations, preferences and commitments, and abilities and skills.

Teachers with more adaptive coping strategies show a lower degree of burnout than teachers with coping strategies based on ignoring or avoiding problematic situations.

Teachers are able to recover from weekly workplace stress over the weekend early in the academic year, but this does not continue throughout the year.


The structure of stress1
THE STRUCTURE OF STRESS

What school administrations can do to help their teachers cope with stress:

  • Reduce class sizes;

  • Allow for preparation time during school day;

  • Improve the climate of social support

  • Instigate staff induction and professional development programmes;

  • Encourage greater teacher recognition; and

  • Provide clearer description of job tasks and expectations.


Buffers coping resources
BUFFERS & COPING RESOURCES

“A sense of agency, a strong support group (including a competent and caring leadership team), pride in achievements and competence in areas of personal importance are all major protective factors….” [Howard & Johnston, 2004].

“Coping refers to both overt and covert behaviours that are taken to reduce or eliminate psychological distress or stressful conditions.” [Fleishman,1984].



Coping factors
COPING FACTORS

Pearlin & Schooler [1978] define an individual’s coping factors as:

  • Responses that change the situation out of which stress arises;

  • Responses that control the meaning of the strainful experience after it occurs but before the emergence of stress; and

  • Responses that function to control of stress itself after it has emerged.

    These responses may involve:

  • Social/Problem solving skills [planful];

  • Self-belief, Resilience, Hardiness. 

  • Positive appraisal of events.


Resilience hardiness
RESILIENCE & HARDINESS

Resilience was seen as ‘a strong belief in their ability to control what happens to them’, involving:

  • De-personalising unpleasant or difficult;

  • Recognising and letting mistakes go;

  • Understanding the emotional/behavioural motivations of others;

  • Possession of a sense of ‘moral purpose’.

    Hardiness: three key factors to hardiness – emotional control [e.g. Negative Mood Regulation], Moral Agency [commitment], and the ability to meet challenges [e.g. achievement motivation].


Social support systems
SOCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS

Social support systems, involving significant relationships founded on honest and open communication, are critical for teachers coping with workplace stress.

Such support systems act in three dimensions:

  • The practical, derived from peers/colleagues;

  • The informational, derived from school superiors; &

  • The emotional, derived from family/friends.


Recommendations
RECOMMENDATIONS

“Overall it is perhaps the general level of alertness and vigilance required by teachers in meeting the potentially threatening variety of demands made upon them that constitutes the essence of why the experience of stress and burnout is so prevalent.” [Kyriacou, 1987].


Recommendation 1 peer support
RECOMMENDATION #1: PEER SUPPORT

Teachers with support systems involving significant relationships with peers, employers, and family/friends, experience significantly less stress.

Support systems involving colleagues, mentoring by experienced teachers, and support from principals, are the most immediately effective interventions a school can deploy as a buffer to stress, illness, and burnout amongst its staff.

Support systems can be constructed in a number of forms, e.g.:

  • Formal systems developed around subject or year level groups;

  • Informal systems that evolve organically between staff themselves;

  • ‘Buddy’ programs arranged by the school to establish connections between beginning teachers and more experienced colleagues.


Recommendation 1 peer support1
RECOMMENDATION #1: PEER SUPPORT

Increased amounts of practical support from colleagues and high levels of emotional support from family and friends reduces depersonalisation of students [a risk factor for aggressive disciplinary behaviour in teachers].

Informational support from supervisors, mentors, and principals reduces stress from role ambiguity, role overload, and role conflict, as well as helping with cognitive reappraisal of stressful events.

There are impediments to teachers using peer support, such as school culture and a reluctance to admit experiencing difficulties to colleagues.

This reluctance has led Lewis to propose a range of indicators that could be used as a means to identify teachers who may need support and may also be the very teachers least likely to seek support from their peers.


How would you know if a teacher in your school needed to improve their classroom management
HOW WOULD YOU KNOW IF A TEACHER IN YOUR SCHOOL NEEDED TO IMPROVE THEIR CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT?  

  • What would the teacher be doing (that they shouldn’t be)?

  • What wouldn’t the teacher be doing (that they should be)?


Indicators of need for support
INDICATORS OF NEED FOR SUPPORT IMPROVE THEIR CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT?  

R. Lewis has obtained significant teacher support for the set of indicators below, to be used to assess whether a teacher needs an offer of support.


Recommendation 2 class management
RECOMMENDATION #2: CLASS MANAGEMENT IMPROVE THEIR CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT?  

Lewis has identified positive and negative classroom management strategies used by teachers when confronted with discipline issues in the classroom:

  • When students misbehave their teachers become concerned and respond by increasingly employing punishment with aggression & hostility.

  • The use of aggression [e.g. yelling in anger, sarcasm, and group punishments] significantly increases student distraction from learning and student perceptions of their teacher actions as annoying and unjustified.

  • The same teachers decreasingly employ rewards and punishments involving discussion, validation of appropriate behaviour, involvement and trust, leading the students being less responsible & nore distracted from their learning.

  • Hinting, discussion, and the recognition of positive behaviour, significantly lowers student distraction from learning and reduces annoyance at the teacher.


Differences between perceptions by level of schooling
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PERCEPTIONS BY LEVEL OF SCHOOLING IMPROVE THEIR CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT?  

Primary students and teachers report greater use of each of the discipline practices below than do secondary students and teachers:

  • Discussion

  • Recognition

  • Involvement

  • Hinting

  • Punishment

  • Significantly, there is no difference for Aggression!



  • Recommendation 2 class management1
    RECOMMENDATION #2: CLASS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES

    • Discuss each of the strategies below, highlighting any reservations you have about their usefulness. Identify what might be done in your school to increase the likelihood of teachers who need to improve their classroom management adopting these strategies.

    • Lewis has devised a set of management strategies aimed at reducing disciplinary concerns and student distraction, and increasing student responsibility and the amount of teacher/student goodwill [level of support from research indicated].



    References
    REFERENCES TECHNIQUES

    Australian Education Union [2007]. Beginning Teacher Survey: Results & Report. Accessible from: www.aeufederal.org.au/Publications/Btsurvey07sum.pdf

    Austin, V., Shah, S. & Muncer, S. [2005].Teacher stress and coping strategies used to reduce stress. Occupational Therapy International, 12[2]: 63-80.

    Borg, M.G. [1990].Occupational Stress in British Educational Setting: a review. Educational Psychology, 10[2]: 103-125.

    Caulfield, N., Chang, C., Dollard, M.F., & Elshaug, C. [2004]. A Review of Occupational Stress Interventions in Australia. International Journal of Stress Management 11[2]: 149-166.

    Fleishman, J.A. [1984].Personality Characteristics and Coping Patterns. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 25[June]: 229-244.

    Greenglass, E., Fiksenbaum, L. & Burke, R.J. [1996].Components of Social Support, Buffering Effects and Burnout: Implications for Psychological Functioning. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 9: 185-197.

    Howard, S. & Johnston, B. [2004].Resilient Teachers: resisting stress and burnout. Social Psychology of Education, 7: 399-420.

    Jarvis, M. [2002].Teacher Stress: A Critical Review of Recent Findings and Suggestions for Future Research Directions. Downloaded on the 15/09/07 from http:/www.isma.org.uk/stressnw/teacherstress1.htm.

    Johnson, S., Cooper, G., Cartwright, S., Donald, I., Taylor, P. & Millet, C. [2005].The experience of work-related stress across occupations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 20: 178-187.

    Kyriacou, C. [1987].Teacher stress and burnout: an international review. Educational Research 29[2]:146-151.

    Mearns, J. & Cain, J.E. [2003].Relationship Between Teacher’s Occupational Stress and their Roles of Coping and Negative Mood Regulation Expectations. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 16[1]: 71-82.

    Pearlin, L.I. & Schooler, C. [1978].The Structure of Coping. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 19[March]: 2-21.

    Pisanti, R., Gagliardi, M.P., Razzino, S. & Betini, M. [2003].Occupational stress and wellness among Italian secondary school teachers. Psychology and Health 18[4]: 523-536.

    Travers, C.J. & Cooper, C.L. [1993].Mental health, job satisfaction and occupational stress among UK teachers. Work & Stress, 7[3]: 203-219.

    Van Dick, R. & Wagner, U. [2001]. Stress and strain in teaching: A structural equation approach. British Journal of Educational Psychology 71[June]: 243-259.


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