Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Teacher Stressors

Mitigating teacher stressors is an important part of school administration. Teaching is not easy, yet too often we're reminded about our short days, extended vacations, and exorbitant salary and benefits packages by those who haven't been in a classroom since high school graduation. Those of us in the know, however, realize that teaching is quite a challenge yet a satisfying way to contribute to our future community successes. As a school administrator, I think it's important to recognize these challenges that teachers encounter on a regular basis and to do my best to minimize their potential negative influence on student learning.

I recently read Stauffer and Mason's (2013) paper on this topic and have been thinking about the sources of stress that teachers encounter, as well as the authors' strategies for school administrators to serve as mediators of these stressors. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the authors identified Political and Educational Structures as the most frequently cited source of stress from their sample of 64 teachers. The negative rhetoric that plays out in the media can cause even our most experienced educators to question their self and collective efficacy. I think one way that school administrators can work to preserve their teachers' beliefs about their instructional practices is to stay current with respect to not only the educational reforms that prevail in the media, but also to have a good understanding of what drives these reforms. Helping teachers to understand why educational experts politicians might have a strangle-hold on certain reforms is an important part of school administration.

Stauffer and Mason also identified the following categories of teacher stressors, in order of frequency: Instructional Factors; Student Factors; Parent and Family Factors; and School Climate. I'd like to get your thoughts about teacher stressors. Please comment on which of the teacher stressors identified by Stauffer and Mason have the largest influence on your teaching or administrative practice.

Stauffer, S.D. and Mason, E.C.M. (2013). Addressing elementary school teachers' professional stressors: Practical suggestions for school administrators. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49, 809-837.