“STRESS MANAGEMENTMATTERS FOR BOTH SCHOOL LEADERS AND TEACHERS” Dorota Ekiert-Oldroyd, Higher School of Pedagogy, Katowice, Poland
General definitions of stress Characteristics of teacher stress The Polish study of teacher stress- frequency- factors- relations with school leader Coping strategies Implications for school leaders Sources of teacher stress in the UK
Introduction Research in Poland and elsewhere indicates that organizational factors and relationships with school leaders are significant causes of stress for teachers SO school leaders should learn how to manage stress in their own work AND how - together with others – to make schools less stressful work environments
General definitions • “All the non-specific changes within the biological system that occur when challenged by aversive or noxious stimuli” Selye, 1950 • Stress is a feeling experienced when a person thinks that "the demands of the situation exceed the personal and social resources that the individual is able to mobilize.”Lazarus, 1978 • Work-related stress is definedas “a psychological state that reflects a process of interactionbetween individuals and theirwork environment”Report on research on work-relatedstress, University of Nottingham, 2000
"the demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
Research findings show that long-term pressures and disadvantageous work circumstances are causing burnout which destroys personal and professional efficacy.
Holmes and Rahe’s (1987) Scale of Stress Events:factors connected with the work environment • Dismissal from work 47 • Retirement 45 • Change to different line of work 36 • Change in responsibilities at work 29 • Outstanding personal achievement 28 • Trouble with boss 23 • Change in working hours or conditions 20
Teachers’ stress C. Kyriacou & J. Sutcliffe (1978) defined teachers’ stress as“a syndrome of negative emotions (anger or depression) as a result of the profession.” Characteristics of teachers’ stress are a “fear of losing face, influence and control” and – as a result – the general feeling of incompetence . Personality factors such as patience and perseverance influence the perception of stressors and the behaviour teachers’ in stressful situations. S.O. Brenner and R. Bartell (1984) have developed theconcept of teacher stress and they see stress as an effect of many factors such as: • school-specific stressors which are stressors not found in other jobs. • the personal health of the individual, • personality traits, • available resources , • stressors not connected with work but other spheres of life.
Two forms of guilt • Andy Hargreaves in "Changing Teachers; Changing Times" (2001) describes two forms of teacher guilt: • Persecutory guilt- caused by external demands for accountability • Depressive guilt- resulting from a failure to meet the high expectations one sets for oneself as a dedicated professional wishing to serve the students to the best of one's ability
Teachers’ Work-Related Stress: Implementing the European Autonomous Framework Agreement on Work-Related Stress European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) – Brussels 2009 • “Work-related stress is not acknowledged as a problem in the education sector in all countries.Although almost 70% of the 27 countries which participated in the first ETUCE survey(2004) are aware of the existence of the European Social Partners’ Framework Agreement on work-related stress, only around 40% of them have taken steps to implement it at national level.” • “The most important stressors for teachers are related to the organisation of the work and to the working conditions and working environment at school. Stress is a symptom of organisational problems and not a separate workers’ weakness. It finds its roots in the way teaching and the school as a whole are organised. Physical aspects of the school environment, such as noise and poor ventilation, can also cause stress and should not be neglected”
The Multi-method Approach to measuring stress • Using various research methods; both qualitative and quantitative is desirable to create a balance between: • physiological measures - pulse, blood pressure, hormone level, etc. • self-reports – questionnaires, interviews, journals. • unobtrusive methods – analysingbehaviours which are indicators of stress, e.g. neglecting the house, private records (diaries), absenteeism from work, observation, recording behaviours)
Focus of the Polish study To answer three questions : 1. How stressed are teachersin selected Polish schools?- perceived frequency- perceived factors- relations with school director 2. What coping strategies do teachers employ in dealing with stress? 3. How canschool leaders help teachers in coping with professional stress ?
4 primary & 4 lower secondary schools Methods applied • Questionnaires(frequency; factors; leader relations) • Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS) ( Endler and Parkers) three styles of coping with stress (task-oriented; emotion-oriented; avoidance-oriented) • Interviews with teachers& school directors • Observations
Questionnaire results:Perceived frequency of stress 95% of teachers (n = 138) reportedthat stress is anelement of their job but its frequency and level differs: • 24% feel stressed every day • 18% severaltimes a week • 18% once/twice a week • 35% less frequently than every week • 5% reported that stress is never a problem in their work
Teacher’s perceptions of contacts with their school director Too demanding Stressful contacts Always helpful Too busy
CISS results: Coping with stress • Task-oriented coping style 70% • Emotion-oriented coping style 13% • Avoidance-oriented coping style 17% • The results are optimistic as the task-oriented style is the most pragmatic and effective way of dealing with stress at work, but the psychological costs of this strategy might be high.
A framework for school leader development: The AUTA Model of Stress Management • AWARENESS (knowledge aboutstress; distress and eustress and related theories) • UNDERSTANDING (what is stress? what is it’s influence on me? how does it affect my work? do I see stress as challenge, threat or loss? • TECHNIQUES(how to deal with stress) • (SELF) ACTUALISATION (achieving well-being and a better life; avoidance of professional burnout)
What can school leaders do? • Organisational design (positive psychological and physical environment, workloads, in-school support for teachers based on team work, ‘social time’, task clarity documented policies, etc.) • School-based and other professional development (stress management training; mutual lesson observation, etc.) • Personal counselling and career advice (professional tutoring; „hands on”management; offering encouragement to build personal efficacy, etc.)
:Ten most frequent sources of stress in UK teachers • - Lack of help and support from the LEA • - Constant changes • - Lack of sufficient information about changes • - Lack of respect for teachers • - National Curriculum • - Disproportion between salaries and effort • - Pupil assessment • - Problems with difficult students • - Insufficient time for contacts with students • Lack of correlation between the quality of work and job promotion - Travers and Cooper, 1996
In 2009 the situation in UK had not changed: “Half of all teachers have considered leaving the profession due to stress, citing the long hours, excessive workload, lack of support and poor pupil behaviour, violence, excessive monitoring, disruptive pupils, constant change and workplace bullying, - these aren't just stresses, these are teachers' stresses.”National Union of Teachers “Depression, anxiety and burnout have become the teacher's disease, although often it remains hidden.” Daily Mail
Three interesting sources European Trade Union Committee for EducationTeachers’ Work-Related Stress: Implementing the European Autonomous Framework Agreement on Work-Related StressBrussels, 2009 http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2004/10/feature/eu0410206f.htm European Agency for Safety and Health at Work Office for Official Publications of the EuropeanCommunities.Research on Work-related Stress Luxembourg, 2000