It is without a shadow of doubt that stress, strain and anxiety are common is the working environment. People striving for excellence are the ones most affected by this ailment. It is worth noting that the profession most affected by this ailment is teaching. Numerous scholarly research studies have shown that educators are highly prone to be influenced by stress. These studies have shown several factors that have been directly responsible for this ailment to prevail amongst the educators. This paper will attempt to create a productive plan of stress management for educators by studying the various factors that have been responsible for influencing stress on educators.
Review of Related Literature
Stress can be defined as "a complex, dynamic process of interaction between a person and his or her life. It is the way we react physically, mentally, and emotionally to the various conditions, changes, and demands of life (Christopher Hess, 2004)."
Numerous scholarly research studies have developed several models that present several theories related to stress so as to better understand this ailment, which is fast turning out to be a major issue in the work-related environment, particularly, in the profession of teaching. One really successful developmental model had been presented by Fuller. Fuller (1969) believed that the stress on teachers is a "developmental process." He believes that in the initial stage the stress on the educators is restricted to the understanding of the behavior of the students and establishing their authority in the classroom. However, as time goes by, the sphere of influence of stress on educators broadens extensively. Along with the need to understand the behavior of the students and establishing their authority in the classroom, the teachers start to focus more on their methods of instruction and judgments related to intellectual and moral growth of her students.
Another extremely beneficial model had been developed by Long and Duffner (1980). These scholars gave an interrelated environmental model of student discords. The result of their study demonstrated that the primary factor, which is responsible for stress on educators is the behavior and attitude of the students. Their study demonstrates that the pupil behavior in the classroom extracts intense arousing and expressive reactions from almost all educators that develop into speedy sequences of interpersonal clashes and these conflicts result in a great deal of stress.
It is also worth noting that a lot of idealistic teachers enter the profession of teaching. Their expectations from their professional environment have been found to be extremely high. However, when these idealistic teachers come to the realization that their expectations had been unrealistic and that they over estimated the productivity of the educational environment, they develop symptoms of emotional and psychological stress and this ailment sometimes even turns out to be chronic in nature. These views have been presented by Zabel and his group (1984) during their extensive study on this subject to develop an interactive model so as to better understand the symptoms of stress amongst educators.
In order to better understand the symptoms of stress on educators, it is also worth noting that a number of scholarly studies related to social psychology can turn out to be an extremely useful reference to better understand this ailment amongst teachers. One social psychological study conducted by Bandura (1977a, 1977b) studied the symptoms related to stress and burnout. He concludes his study by revealing that poor understanding of the environment and overlooked expectations are significantly responsible for increased stress and reduced institutional productivity. Therefore, one can safely deduce from this study that when educational institutions set high teacher performance without providing adequate resources to them, the teachers start having doubts about the future and these doubts quite often lead to stress and anxiety and this stress eventually paves way for a lack of commitment from the teachers towards their educational institution.
One can safely recognize the shared value of these research studies conducted by these scholars, Fuller (1969), Bandura (1977a, 1977b), Long and Duffner (1980), along with Zabel et al. (1984). It is worth noting that modern research studies on this subject have nothing new to offer other than site settings and procedures. The results of almost all modern day research studies lead to the above conclusions. Therefore, one can clearly illustrate that the symptoms related to stress amongst teachers are more or less pertaining to the educational environment; the unrealistic expectations of the teachers from their environment; the unhelpful attitude of other professionals they interact with in educational settings; and last but not least the attitude and behavior of the students towards their teachers. All these factors have a direct influence on the performance of the teacher as well as her well-being.
It is worth noting that while these models have been extremely useful in acquiring a comprehensive understanding of the symptoms of stress, they have not presented any model for stress management to help teachers cope with this ever-increasing threat. Therefore, it is imperative that a plan for stress management is built so that teachers can serve their institutions with utmost commitment and sincerity and help build a better society with better human beings.
A stress management plan for educators
There is no doubt that the profession of teaching is such that the influence of stress is almost unavoidable. However, Cooley and Yovanoff (1996) reveal that if the teachers are willing to implement certain strategies they may be able to minimize the impact of stress on their services. One tactic that can turn out to be a handful for reducing stress is a peer support system. Yee (1990) in his study asserted that a "peer support system" that is focused towards offering interactions amongst teachers at all levels. This strategy may turn out to be very beneficial for the teachers in both the short-term and the long-term as a lot of teachers have complained about work-related isolation.
Brownell and Smith (1993) propose another useful strategy in which old and senior teachers can act as a mentor for new teachers to offer instructions and guidance during stressful times. Also, it is worth noting that several researchers have been criticizing the methods of the administration in their lack of support for the teachers (Fimian, 1986a; Billingsley & Cross, 1991; Brownell & Smith, 1992). These research findings demonstrate that the support of the educational administration is extremely important for reducing stress and increasing productivity. The findings also suggest that the level of support provided from the administration seems to be directly proportional to the performance of the teachers, particularly new teachers. In addition, these research findings reveal that the primary factor that is responsible for influencing many teachers into changing their profession is the lack of support from the administration; therefore it is critical that the educational administration provides their full support to the teachers and help them in coping with stress.
Platt and Olson (1990) stress the importance of identifying the symptoms of stress and integrating them in the education training for teachers. These researchers propose that such programs can help teachers in lessening the amount of stress on them and can help them prepare for unforeseen circumstances in a better way. Providing potential teachers with the severe realities of this profession can turn out to be a great help for teachers as they will be able to respond to stressful circumstances in an appropriate way.
Other researchers have also proposed similar proactive stress management plans (Cooley & Yovanoff, 1996; Fimian & Blanton, 1986; Partin and Gargiulo, 1980). These researchers have emphasized the importance of educating the teachers so that they can cope with the stress in the initial stages instead of allowing any situations to become a stressful situation.
The dilemma of stress being faced by educators has turned out to be extremely complex and dynamic. No straight forward solution is present for teachers to cope with stress. Rather a coordinated effort is needed from all quarters to lessen the grave impact of stress on the most vital process of teaching and learning. One can understand stress as an ailment, which is directly responsible for teachers not performing at their best and demonstrating a lack of commitment, notwithstanding their preparation on the subject and their desire to teach (Joseph Labeau, 2003).
However, it is also safe to conclude that job stress has been a prevailing ailment in all work-related activities and is a common ailment in all professional developments. The work-related environment is directly responsible for influencing stress. Therefore, the only solution that exists is that the all individuals associated with the work-related environment assist each other in becoming more productive and useful for their organization and thereby reduce the amount of stress on each other (Yvonne Robert, 1993).
Bandura, A. (1977a). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215. Taken from: Lech Wisniewski; Richard M. Gargiulo. Occupational stress and burnout among special educators: a review of the literature. Journal of Special Education. 10/15/1997.
Brownell, M., & Smith, S. (1993). Understanding special…