In turn, teachers and their leaders should take steps to increase the responsibility for managing their schools and assessing the performance of their peers. (1990)
The work of Charles Kowalski entitled: "Caring for Teachers in Uncaring Schools" (2002) states that stress in teachers "can be more insidious than in other professions by its "fuzzy" nature: it arises from a vague system of rules and returns; it is often self-inflicted; and unlike in the business or medical professions, the debilitating effects are not often counterbalanced by moments of exhilaration and satisfaction." Kowalski notes that stress is more likely to affect "younger, less experienced teachers over older, more experienced ones; those of lower academic rank over higher; single teachers over married; and women over men, although men are at greater risk of self-destructive reactions to stress." (2002)
Causes of teacher stress may be various factors and may be "both external and internal." (Kowalski, 2002) External causes of stress include: "...institutional conditions such as large, mixed-ability classes, lack of student discipline and motivation, lack of resources, overwork or uneven distribution of workloads, poor communication, unclear expectations, and inadequate rewards and recognition." (Kowalski, 2002) Other causes of stress are "problematic relationships...such as personality conflicts, lack of community spirit, feelings of isolation, lack of support, and limited academic and social interaction with other teachers." (Kowalski, 2002) Internal causes include: "...an aggressive, impatient, competitive "Type a" personality; workaholism; negative attitude toward students; and in particular, unrealistic self-expectations. (Kowalski, 2002) Kowalski states that three methods administrators can use in the creation of a more positive working environment include the following:
Treat faculty as an investment: An important first step in improving the overall quality of education is for administrations to view faculty members as valuable investments rather than expendable assets. Many universities neglect an important resource by assuming faculty to be self-sufficient with no further need for training or support;
Provide clear expectations, feedback, and rewards: A clear statement of expectations and rewards in all areas of responsibility (teaching, research, and service) helps faculty perform at their best; and Establish support systems for teachers: A simple and important first step in supporting teachers is keeping two-way lines of communication open between teaching and administrative faculty. Teachers need to know that they can safely consult a respected senior colleague when they have questions or concerns; one way of providing this has been to establish a "consulting teacher" among the senior faculty, who teaches a reduced load and is available for consultation with newer teachers. (Kowalski, 2002)
According to Kowalski "supportive relationships with co-workers are a teacher's best protection against the sense of isolation that is a major cause of teacher stress." (2002) Kowalski concludes by stating: "Excessive teacher stress, left undiagnosed and untreated, can have long-term negative consequences not only for individual teachers, but ultimately for the entire institution." (2002) the work of Lara Lauzon entitled: "Teacher Wellness" states that there are "numerous reports in the literature on teacher stress and burnout. A nation wide survey done in the United States indicates that there has been a considerable rise in the stress levels of teachers over the years." (1999) Teacher burnout is a three dimensional phenomenon "characterized by feelings of exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of personal accomplishment) can not only manifest itself as various physical ailments and emotional problems, but can result in teachers actually leaving their chosen career." (Lauzon, 1999) Lauzon additionally states that the emphasis for change in avoiding teacher stress often relates to:
1) the physical environment the teacher works in;
2) a shift in task overload;
3) Training in the area of conflict resolution and 4) Training in communication skills.
However, missing in the research is: "...the importance of the personal health and well-being levels of the teachers themselves and how this important aspect can play a role in managing stress." (Lauzon, 1999) Lauzon relates that experts on health and wellness have suggested "that attention to personal lifestyle can improve well-being; that making healthy lifestyle choices can increase our levels of joy, satisfaction and zest for living. Healthy and well employees are also more products employees. Teacher wellness might be the missing link in the strategic planning process of education reform and could assist in the transformation and revitalization of both the school systems and individual teachers." (1999) the following figure shows the model of health and wellness of Dr. Donald Ardell related in the work of Lauzon (1999).
Model of Health and Wellness
Source: Lauzon (1999)
The methodology to be used in the research study is one of a qualitative method and is in the form of a case study. The case study will be conducted through focus group discussions. Prior to the focus group studies a survey will be administered to participants in the case study which will serve to inform the focus group discussions. The survey will query participants as to their personal health practices including mental and emotional health and will ask teachers questions concerning their methods of coping with the stress associated with teaching.
The work of Ramchander (2004) states: "The qualitative approach is grounded in the interpretive social sciences paradigm. Qualitative forms of investigation tend to be based on a recognition of the importance of the subjective, experiential 'lifeworld' of human beings." Ramchander additionally states: "Easterby-Smith et al. (1991) describe the task of the qualitative methodologist as to capture what people say and do as a product of how they interpret the complexity of their world, and to understand events from the viewpoints of participants." (2004) Furthermore since qualitative reports "are not presented as statistical summation, but rather adopt a more descriptive narrative style, this type of research is likely to be of particular benefit to the practitioner. However, it is on those grounds that qualitative research has often been described as not being empirical. Nevertheless, this argument does not hold, since the term 'empirical' has nothing to do with numbers or the manipulation of variables, but refers instead to whether phenomena are capable of being found in the real world and assessed by means of the senses." (Ramchander, 2004)
Ramchander (2004) relates that limitations of qualitative research and evaluation are "the time required for data collection, analysis and interpretation."
Johnson, Susan Moore (1990) Teachers at Work: Achieiving Success in Our Schools. Basic Books, New York 1990.
Kowalski, Charles (2002)Caring for teachers in uncaring schools. Curriculum Innovation, Testing and Evaluation: Proceedings of the 1st Annual JALT Pan-SIG Conference.May 11-12, 2002. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Institute of Technology. Online available at http://www.jalt.org/pansig/2002/HTML/Kowalski.htm
Lauzon, Lara (1999) Teacher Wellness. Vol. 1, Issue II. Fall 1999. Online available at http://www.speakwell.com/well/1999_fall/articles/teacher_wellness.html
Miller, Geri, et al. (1999) Teacher Stress: A Case Study.. ERIC Digest. Online available at http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED467833&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED467833
Ramchander, P. (2004) Research and Design Methodology. University of Pretoria edt. Online available at: www.uky.edu/Education/EDP/edp656sp05kmt.doc
The Journal of Experimental Education 57(1), pp. 117-128, Fall 1988. Reprinted with permission of the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation. Published by Heldref Publications,…