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An analysis of stress, burnout, and coping in a sample of secondary public school teachers

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Jennifer Lauren Tripken
Abstract:
Teacher stress and burnout is a serious problem for teachers because it negatively affects their physical and psychological well-being as well as the future of the teaching profession. The aim of this study was to describe the various sources of stress, the level of teacher stress and burnout, the coping strategies employed by teachers to reduce stress in their daily life, and their perceived needs for reducing this stress in a sample of secondary public school teachers. This exploratory case study used four validated survey instruments, the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, the Classroom Appraisal of Resources and Demands, the Preventive Resources Inventory, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey, and answered questions related to study themes in a face-to-face interview. The results of this study showed that over half the sample reported job-related stress. The major sources of stress identified were the lack of support from the administration, student behaviors, parents demands, student apathy, additional duties, and work overload. It was also found that over half of the participants reported at least one symptom of moderate to high burnout. The main coping strategies used by participants were social support, destructive behaviors, such as alcohol use, techniques to lower arousal, such as exercise, and cognitive reframing. While none of the participants were involved in a stress reduction program at the time of the study, 85% percent had a misperception of what these programs were. After an explanation of stress reduction programs, all participants expressed an interest in them. Lastly, the needs of participants to reduce their stress resulted in four main suggestions. These included more frequent peer collaboration, more effective and convenient professional development opportunities, a more supportive and effective administration, and greater availability and accessibility of mental health resources. This study provided comprehensive descriptions of the experience of stress, teacher burnout, coping, and perceived needs in a sample of teachers. It is recommended that school administrators and teachers work together to identify ways to decrease teacher stress to reduce the incidence of teacher burnout, and the subsequent injurious physical and psychological manifestations of stress and burnout.

TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS hi TABLE OF CONTENTS v LIST OF TABLES xi LIST OF FIGURES xiii Chapter I INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 8 Research Questions 9 Definitions 10 Delimitations of the Study 12 Assumptions of the Study 13 Significance 13 II LITERATURE REVIEW 17 Teaching Profession Today 17 Teacher Stress 20 Etiology of Teacher Stress 23 Student Behaviors 25 Classroom Management 26 Work Overload 26 Administrative Support 27 The Process of Stress 29 The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping 30 Expanded Transactional Model 33 Preventive Coping Resources 35 Combative Coping 36 Levels of Coping 37 Organizational Levels of Coping 37 Individual Levels of Coping 38 Consequences of Teacher Stress 40 Effects on the Teacher 40 Effects on the Student 41 Effects on the Profession 42 General Adaptation Syndrome 44 Teacher Burnout 46 Definition of Burnout 47 Components of Burnout 48 Emotional Exhuastion 48 Depersonalization 49 Personal Accomplishment 49 Transactional Theory of Burnout 51 v

Chapter II Individual Factors 52 (cont'd) Age 52 Gender 53 Demographic Variables 53 Personality Variables 54 Organizational Factors 55 Role Conflict and Ambiguity 55 Work Overload 56 Classroom Climate 57 Decision Making 57 Lack of Support 58 Transactional Factors 58 Causal Attributions 58 Perceptions of Social Support 59 Reducing Teacher Stress and Burnout 59 Teacher Attrition 60 Mentoring and Peer Collaboration 61 Professional Development 62 Coping Resources 62 III METHODOLOGY 65 Study Design 65 Participants 66 Instruments 66 Descriptive Data 67 The Social Readjustment Rating Scale 67 The Classroom Appraisal of Resources and Demands Inventory 68 The Preventive Resource Inventory 69 Maslach Burnout Inventory - Educators Survey 71 Interview Protocol 72 Data Collection 73 Trustworthiness 75 Credibility 76 Transferability 77 Dependability 77 Confirmability 77 Quantitative Data Analysis 78 Qualitative Data Analysis 81 Interview Transcription 81 Thematic Analysis 82 VI

RESULTS 83 Profile of Teacher Participants 83 Gender 84 Age 84 Ethnicity 84 Years of Experience 84 Highest Degree Earned 85 Method of Obtaining Teaching Certification 85 Number of Students Taught 86 Category of Teacher 87 Descriptive Findings 88 Life Stress 88 Job-Related Stress 89 Coping Resources 92 Job Stress and Preventive Coping 95 Level of Burnout 96 Burnout and Preventive Coping 98 Qualitative Research Findings 98 Profiles of Participants 98 Lisa 98 Life Stress 99 Job Stress 99 Burnout 100 Coping 100 Stress Reduction Programs 101 Wendy 101 Life Stress 102 Job Stress 102 Burnout 103 Coping 103 Stress Reduction Programs 104 Monica 104 Life Stress 105 Job Stress 105 Burnout 106 Coping 106 Stress Reduction Programs 107 Valerie 108 Life Stress 108 Job Stress 108 Burnout 109 Coping 109 Stress Reduction Programs 110 Barbara I l l Life Stress I l l Job Stress I l l vu

Chapter IV Burnout 112 (cont'd) Coping 112 Stress Reduction Programs 113 Connie 114 Life Stress 114 Job Stress 114 Burnout 115 Coping 115 Stress Reduction Programs 116 Olivia 117 Life Stress 117 Job Stress 117 Burnout 118 Coping 118 Stress Reduction Programs 119 Jane 120 Life Stress 120 Job Stress 120 Burnout 121 Coping 121 Stress Reduction Programs 122 Gloria 123 Life Stress 124 Job Stress 124 Burnout 125 Coping 125 Stress Reduction Programs 126 Fawn 126 Life Stress 127 Job Stress 127 Burnout 128 Coping 128 Stress Reduction Programs 129 Sally 129 Life Stress 130 Job Stress 130 Burnout 131 Coping 131 Stress Reduction Programs 132 Molly 133 Life Stress 133 Job Stress 133 Burnout 134 Coping 134 viii

Chapter IV Stress Reduction Programs 135 (cont'd) Lester 135 Life Stress 135 Job Stress 136 Burnout 136 Coping 137 Stress Reduction Programs 137 Summary of Qualitative Findings 138 Teacher Stress 139 Administration 139 Student Behaviors 142 Parents 143 Student Apathy 144 Additional Duties 145 Work Overload 146 Coping Strategies 147 Lower Arousal 148 Destructive Behaviors 150 Social Support 151 Cognitive Refraining 152 School as a Coping Mechanism 153 Perceptions of Coping 154 Anger 155 Internalization 155 Alcohol 156 Perceptions of Stress Reduction Programs 156 Misperceptions 157 Lack of Awareness 157 Unnecessary 158 Responses Following an Explanation of Stress Reduction Programs 158 Perceived Needs 158 Peer Collaboration 159 Professional Development 161 Administrative Support 162 Open Communication 162 Awareness 163 Availability of Resources 164 Document Collection 165 Conclusions 166 IX

V DISCUSSION 167 Are teachers in a particular secondary school stressed? 167 What are the sources of stress reported by the selected teachers? 169 Are the selected teachers reporting symptoms of burnout? 173 How do the selected teachers cope with stress? 176 How do the selected teachers perceive stress reduction programs? 181 What do the selected teachers say they need to reduce their stress? 182 Limitations of the Study 186 Recommendations 187 Research Recommendations 188 Educational Recommendations 190 Conclusion and Implications 193 REFERENCES 197 APPENDICES A Superintendent Informed Consent 223 B Participant Informed Consent 228 C Demographic Information 233 D Social Readjustment Rating Scale 235 E Classroom Appraisal of Resources and Demands 238 F Preventive Resources Inventory 245 G Sample Maslach Burnout Inventory - Educators Survey 250 H Interview Guide 254 I Document Checklist 257 J Thematic Codes 259 K Content Validation of Interview Questions 266 x

Table LIST OF TABLES 1 Demographic Characteristics of Teacher Participants 85 2 Respondents by Number of Students Taught in the Past Year 87 3 Respondents by Category of Teacher 88 4 Descriptive Statistics for Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) Scores 89 5 Respondents by Category According to Classroom Appraisal of Resources and Demand Scores 90 6 Respondents by Category According to their Attitude About their Career 90 7 Top Five Challenges of a Teacher as Reported by Participants 91 8 Respondents Rating of the Demands of the Teaching Profession 92 9 Descriptive Statistics for Preventive Resources Inventory 92 10 Descriptive Statistics for the Self-Acceptance Scale of the Preventive Resources Inventory 93 11 Descriptive Statistics for the Social Resourcefulness Scale of the Preventive Resources Inventory 93 12 Descriptive Statistics for the Perceived Control Scale of the Preventive Resources Inventory 94 13 Descriptive Statistics for the Maintaining Perspective Scale of the Preventive Resources Inventory 94 14 Descriptive Statistics for the Scanning Scale of the Preventive Resources Inventory 95 15 Comparison of Stressed Teachers and Not Stressed Teachers by Preventive Resources Inventory 95 16 Respondents Categorized According to the Emotional Exhaustion Subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory - Educators Survey 93 17 Respondents Categorized According to the Depersonalization Subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory - Educators Survey 97 18 Respondents Categorized According to the Personal Accomplishment Subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory - Educators Survey 97 19 Comparison of Teachers who reported Symptoms of Burnout with Teachers without Symptoms of Burnout by Preventive Resources Inventory Scale 98 20 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Lisa 100 21 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Wendy 103 22 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Monica 107 23 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Valerie 110 24 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Barbara 113 25 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Connie 116 26 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Olivia 118 27 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Jane 122 2 8 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Gloria 125 29 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Fawn 128 3 0 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Sally 131 xi

31 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Molly 134 32 Results of the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) for Lester 137 33 Main Sources of Stress in the Teaching Profession Reported by Participants 139 34 Common Coping Strategies Employed by Participants 148 3 5 Participants Perceptions of How Others Cope with Their Stress 159 36 Participants Reasons for Not Participating in Stress Reduction Programs 157 37 Desirable Stress Reduction Strategies Reported by Participants 159 xn

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Expanded Transactional Model of Stress and Coping 35 2 Graphic representation of the General Adaption Syndome 45 3 Maslach's graphic representation of the three components of burnout and their inter-relationship 48 4 Graphic representation of the key sources of teacher burnout: Individual, organizational, and transactional factors 52 5 Changes made to the original sources of teacher burnout after reviewing study results: Individual, organizational, and transactional factors 174 xm

1 Chapter I INTRODUCTION "Teachers wear many hats such as friend, protector, mentor, disciplinarian, and gatekeeper to academic success" (Davis, 2001, p. 431). While teaching offers the opportunity for many pleasant emotions, such as close student and colleague relationships, passion, excitement, joy, pride, and hope, the profession also offers opportunities for negative emotions, such as frustration, guilt, anger, disappointment, and fear (Chang, 2009). The emotional aspect of teaching is precarious, as a teacher's emotions may change day by day, class by class, or even moment by moment. This emotional pendulum increases the vulnerability of teachers to experience high levels of stress and burnout when effective coping strategies are not employed. Not surprisingly, teaching has been found to be one of the most stressful occupations for more than twenty years (Cox & Brockley, 1984; Johnson, Berg, & Donaldson, 2005; Nerell & Wahlund, 1981). The major types of stressors faced by teachers as identified by numerous studies include daily organizational problems, student misconduct, difficulties with administrators, and poor relationships with colleagues, among others (Blase, 1986; Farber, 1984; Pratt, 1978). In addition to this, the overwhelming combination of overcrowded classrooms, testing pressures, paperwork, anxious parents, and boisterous students has placed teachers at a particularly high risk of stress (Crute, 2004). Maslach, Jackson, and Leiter (1996) further expand on the precarious role of the teacher in the context of stress as they are expected to instruct students in both academic and skills

2 areas, as well as "correct social problems (e.g. drug, alcohol, and sexual abuse), provide enrichment activities.. .meet the needs of students with a wide range of abilities, and encourage students' moral and ethical development" (p. 27). Consequently, the increase in the levels of stress teachers are experiencing may lead to ineffective delivery of services, exhaustion, somatic complaints, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse (Wilkerson & Bellini, 2006). Teaching, a unique profession, has itself undergone major reform within the past 20 years and this has contributed markedly to an increase in the demands placed on the individual teacher. For example, schools today serve much larger and more diverse student populations than they did in the past due to increased immigration, higher birth rates, and policies adopted to improve education for a wider range of students, especially those from low-income communities, those with disabilities, and English language learners (Cochran-Smith, Feiman-Nemser, & Mclntyre, 2008). In addition, state and federal policies have increasingly required teachers not only to serve all students, but to succeed with all of them as well. The pressure placed on the teacher to succeed is exemplified further by the No Child Left Behind Act (U. S. Department of Education, 2002), in which low-performing schools face unprecedented sanctions if their students fail to make steady academic gains as measured on state-endorsed standardized achievement tests. With these new demands placed on public education, the focus on the quality of the individual teacher has come under scrutiny, since it is well-established that teachers' are the most important factor in influencing students' learning (Hansen & Sullivan, 2003; Haycock, 1998; McCaffrey, Koretz, Lockwood, & Hamilton, 2003; Sanders & Rivers, 1996). When teachers are held accountable for individual student

3 performances such as in the context of merit pay programs and job contingent state testing requirements, this, coupled with the unique demands of the profession, makes teaching one of the most stressful occupations. Given the degree of stress most teachers are facing, a variety of mostly negative consequences can be predicted for today's teacher. Not surprisingly, the teaching profession is often characterized by high levels of burnout and emotional exhaustion (Hakanen, Bakker, & Schaufeli, 2006; Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). For teachers in elementary and secondary schools, teaching is especially stressful because it is often marked by a narrow focus on day-to-day events, isolation from other adults, and limited opportunities for reflection (Fullan, 2001). Furthermore, teachers often feel worn out intellectually and emotionally when they have to deal with student misbehaviors and poor support from both administration and colleagues (Chang & Davis, 2009). Stress is a personal issue both in its manifestation and styles of managing stress (Hansen & Sullivan, 2003). Some individuals thrive when they are under stress, while others are overwhelmed by the demands placed on them, often resorting to negative coping strategies, such as substance abuse, in the hopes of finding relief. In order to successfully connect with students and help students connect with the subject matter while they resist trying to overtax their resources and experience burnout, teachers need to be able to employ effective coping strategies to deal with the inherent stresses of the profession (Chang, 2009). Just as sources of stress can vary between teachers, responses to stressful experiences also differ. Whereas some teachers may primarily experience physical

4 symptoms such as ulcers and chest pains, others may experience psychological and emotional disturbances such as depression and apathy (Tsai, Fung, & Chow, 2006). Findings from early studies on health related problems associated with teacher stress indicated that the negative effects of stress could range from minor physical symptoms, such as mouth sores, to more serious psychopathological symptoms like depression and suicidal ideations (Kyriacou & Pratt, 1985; Litt & Turk, 1985). Pervez and Hanif (2003) concluded in their study with Pakistani female teachers that stress manifestations could be physical, psychological, or emotional in nature. It is widely accepted that the ability to cope with stress is an important determinant of one's health and well-being (Lightsey, 1996). When an individual perceives an event to be stressful, the body's stress response is initiated, which includes the release of powerful stress hormones and drastic shifts in nervous system functioning. Although this response prepares the body to resist the stress, it also can threaten the health and happiness of the individual if the stressors in the environment are unrelenting (McCarthy, Lambert, & Brack, 1997). It is well documented that teachers are under a significant amount of stress and the profession of teaching has been reported to be a highly stressful (Kyriacou, 2001; Lazarus, 2006; Santavirta, Solovieva, & Theorell, 2007; Younghusband, Garlie, & Church, 2003). According to Matheny, Aycock, Pugh, Curlette, and Canella (1986), the use of coping resources should "positively affect the equation between perceived demands and resources at the appraisal stage" (p. 533). Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, and Gruen (1986) suggested that certain coping resources may not only make the initial appraisal of demands appear less threatening, but they may be important mediators of the relationship between the

5 appraisal of a stressor and the subsequent emotional response to this. While teaching is certainly a challenging profession, it may be even more challenging for novice teachers. As many as 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession after five years (Ingersoll & Kralik, 2004). The trend in education as it relates to novice teacher retention has been a "sink or swim" situation (Maciejewski, 2007). This may be because these novice teachers are often confronted by challenges that more experienced teachers do not face. They are more likely to be assigned the most difficult classes, teach classes with a high concentration of special education students, and serve in schools that have the majority of minority, poor and/or non-English speaking learners. (Moore, 2007, p. 2) However, novice teachers are also more likely to be identified as Idealists (Johnson, Yarrow, Rochkind, & Ott, 2009). Idealist teachers tend to voice the strongest sense of mission about teaching and believe that "good teachers can lead all students to learn, even those from poor families or who have uninvolved parents" (Yarrow, 2009, p. 23). It is this category of teachers that are likely to be most disappointed and stressed, even though they present the best prospects for reinvigorating the profession. This is important because when a teacher becomes disheartened, burnout may result. Teacher burnout has been cited as a catalyst for a myriad of serious issues within the teaching profession. Some of these adverse effects of burnout on the individual teacher are: frequent absences, less commitment, illness, physical ailments, inappropriate social behavior, and low quality teaching performance (Rudow, 1999). Cordes and Dougherty (1993) further expand on the effect of burnout on the individual teacher to include: physical and mental health problems, deterioration of social and family

6 relationships, development of negative attitudes, higher risk of smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse. While teacher burnout can have negative consequences on the individual teacher, perhaps a greater concern is its impact on the target of the teaching profession: the student. Farber (1999) stated: [Students] not only provide the greatest source of difficulties and frustration but also the greatest potential source of gratification. For some teachers, the stress of classroom work is so great that they are unable to experience sufficient rewards from their teaching. Feeling deprived in this manner, some teachers will cut back on their efforts and psychological investment in order to balance the equation. They, of course, ultimately experience even fewer rewards and the downward spiral of burnout begins, (p. 160) Farber is suggesting that while student interactions may yield the greatest reward for teachers, they can also serve as one of the foremost causes of teacher stress. As a teacher's stress level increases, their students may suffer. Most notable is that teachers who experience burnout are more likely to criticize their students than those who are not burned out (Geving, 2007). This can eventually lower student's self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, depth of learning, initiative, and creativity (Maslach & Leiter, 1999). Simply stated, teachers who experience symptoms of burnout may not only suffer negative health effects both physically and psychologically, but may actually do their students harm. While teachers who experience burnout may choose to leave the profession, a larger problem then exists: teacher retention. It appears that this problem has been getting progressively worse over the last 20 years. Marvel, Lyter, Peltola, Stizek, and Morton (2007) report that after the 1988-1989 school year, 5.6 percent of U. S. teachers left the profession. This rate increased to 8.4 percent after the 2007-2008 school year (U. S. Department of Education, 2007). Financially, teacher turnover is a burden not

7 only to the school district itself, but to the country as a whole. The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (2007) reports that teacher turnover costs the U. S. $7 billion annually and that the average school district spends between $4,400 and $17,800 on the hiring and support of new teachers. It is clear that teacher stress and burnout is a serious problem for teachers and staff because it negatively affects their physical and psychological well-being as well as the future of the teaching profession. In addition, the financial impact of teacher turnover and hiring is burdensome to both the individual community and nation as a whole. It is less clear how to best assist teachers to prevent burnout in order to remain happy and productive workers. Research into occupational burnout has been underway for the past 30 years (Zellars, Hochwater, & Perrewe, 2004). However, this research has predominantly been focused on the role of workplace conditions as the cause of burnout. It is evident that research needs to be conducted on the role of individual differences, such as personality factors, that serve as antecedents to burnout. In fact, Zellars et al. (2004) found that the role of personality differences has been largely ignored in favor of exploration of organizational factors causing burnout. An overarching question therefore still remains as to why some teachers flourish and prosper in similar work settings while others will experience stress and burnout. Thus, further investigation into the impact of individual differences in stable organizational settings in reported stress and burnout is warranted (Cocco, Gatti, de Mendonca, & Carles, 2003). In addition, Kyriacou (2001) suggested that future research investigate the role that successful coping with stress plays as a teacher's career develops

8 as the ability to employ successful coping strategies is essential to teacher retention, reduced teacher burnout, and ultimately, student success. Statement of the Problem More than one-third of public school teachers in the U. S. report to be under extreme stress (Pithers & Soden, 1999; Van Dick & Wagner, 2001). This stress impacts not only the individual teacher, but also those who the teacher interacts with in school, including students. A gap in the literature exists regarding what factors allow for some teachers to continue in the profession despite working under stressful conditions, while others suffer health effects and ultimately contemplate leaving the profession altogether. Chang (2009) suggests that future research address this issue by documenting how teachers stay engaged, energized, and revitalized despite dealing with the same organizational stressors and students as those who experience burnout. Extreme stress, as reported in the teaching profession, can result in teacher burnout, which can negatively affect the health and effectiveness of the teacher (Borg, Riding, & Falzon, 1991; Laughlin, 1984; Solman & Feld, 1989; Wood & McCarthy, 2002). Farber (2000) has identified that the experience of negative stress is a significant cause of teacher attrition. Many educators who have experienced negative stress have also experienced teacher burnout (Friedman, 2000; Guglielmi & Tatrow, 1998). Without effective coping strategies and an ability to successfully regulate emotion, teachers are more likely to experience higher levels of burnout than those with good skills (Chang, 2009). Efforts at primary prevention of burnout that provide effective resources for coping seem preferable over secondary and tertiary interventions that occur after burnout

9 symptoms have appeared (Wood & McCarthy, 2002). Many of the existing studies on teacher burnout have relied heavily on one-time survey data. However, the results may only report a teacher's feelings at one particular time, and not as a whole experience. There exists a need for deeper qualitative studies in order to better understand how teachers may prevent burnout or revitalize themselves from burnout situations (Chang, 2009). Research also suggests that most teachers entering the profession intend to work in the field for more than five years (Hite & Durr, 2007). However, it has been reported that between 37 and 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years (Hafner & Owings, 1991; Ingersoll & Kralik, 2004; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). In addition to burnout and stress, the most recent assessment of the current teaching profession has reported that 2 out of 5 of America's 4 million K-12 teachers appear disheartened and disappointed about their jobs (Yarrow, 2009). The current state of the teacher profession thus indicates an urgent need to identify strategies that examine teacher stress and intervene upon this to decrease teacher stress and increase teacher retention. In addition, a gap in the research also indicates a need to focus on the traits and coping strategies of teachers who are resilient and enthusiastic in their career. Research Questions The aim of this study was to identify a sample of certified secondary public school teachers employed in a single school district in New York State and describe the various sources of stress, the level of teacher burnout, the coping strategies employed to reduce stress in their daily life, and perceived needs to reduce this stress. Using four quantitative

10 instruments, the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, the Classroom Appraisal of Resources and Demands Inventory, the Preventive Resources Inventory, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory- Educators Survey, as well as a qualitative interview and document analysis, the study investigated the following research questions: 1. Are teachers in a particular secondary school stressed? 2. What are the sources of stress reported by the selected teachers? 3. Are the selected teachers reporting symptoms of burnout? 4. How do the selected teachers cope with stress? 5. How do the selected teachers perceive stress reduction programs? 6. What do the selected teachers say they need to reduce their stress? Definitions Burnout is defined as a response to the chronic emotional strain of dealing extensively with others in need (Maslach, 1982). Burnout has been conceptualized as a syndrome of three distinct components: emotional exhaustion, lack of a feeling of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization (Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Maslach et al, 1996). Contented teachers are defined as those teachers who are more likely to report excellent working conditions, be experienced in their profession, work in middle-or higher-income schools, and believe their students' test scores have increased a lot because of their teaching (Yarrow, 2009). Contented teachers comprise 37 % of teachers overall and tend to view teaching as a lifelong career. Combative coping refers to coping strategies used to handle stressors after they are

11 encountered. Matheny et al., (1986) offer five classes of combative strategies: stress monitoring, marshaling resources, attacking stressors, tolerating stressors, and lowering arousal. Coping refers to attempts a person makes to cognitively and behaviorally manage the demands that overwhelm his or her individual resources (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Catanzaro and Mearns (1999) describe coping as the process by which people respond to stress in their lives and on their jobs. In essence, an individual may be able to perform well on a job and be satisfied, even with high levels of stress, if effective coping strategies are used while others, who use ineffective coping mechanisms, may feel distress and burnout when under lower levels of stress. Depersonalization refers to impersonal and callous responses towards the recipients of one's service in an attempt to put distance between them and oneself (Maslach et al., 2001). Maslach (1976) describes this aspect of the burnout syndrome as cynicism or an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity. Disheartened teachers are those teachers who are more likely to give their school principals poor rating for supporting them as teachers and express concerns about working conditions, student behavior, and testing (Yarrow, 2009). Disheartened teachers comprise 40 % of teachers overall and tend to be experienced in their profession and teach in low-income schools. Emotional exhaustion refers to feelings of being exhausted by one's work, emotionally overextended, and drained by those one works with (Evers, Tomic, & Brouwer, 2004). Emotional exhaustion is the core element of burnout and the most obvious manifestation of this syndrome (Chang, 2009).

Full document contains 291 pages
Abstract: Teacher stress and burnout is a serious problem for teachers because it negatively affects their physical and psychological well-being as well as the future of the teaching profession. The aim of this study was to describe the various sources of stress, the level of teacher stress and burnout, the coping strategies employed by teachers to reduce stress in their daily life, and their perceived needs for reducing this stress in a sample of secondary public school teachers. This exploratory case study used four validated survey instruments, the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, the Classroom Appraisal of Resources and Demands, the Preventive Resources Inventory, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey, and answered questions related to study themes in a face-to-face interview. The results of this study showed that over half the sample reported job-related stress. The major sources of stress identified were the lack of support from the administration, student behaviors, parents demands, student apathy, additional duties, and work overload. It was also found that over half of the participants reported at least one symptom of moderate to high burnout. The main coping strategies used by participants were social support, destructive behaviors, such as alcohol use, techniques to lower arousal, such as exercise, and cognitive reframing. While none of the participants were involved in a stress reduction program at the time of the study, 85% percent had a misperception of what these programs were. After an explanation of stress reduction programs, all participants expressed an interest in them. Lastly, the needs of participants to reduce their stress resulted in four main suggestions. These included more frequent peer collaboration, more effective and convenient professional development opportunities, a more supportive and effective administration, and greater availability and accessibility of mental health resources. This study provided comprehensive descriptions of the experience of stress, teacher burnout, coping, and perceived needs in a sample of teachers. It is recommended that school administrators and teachers work together to identify ways to decrease teacher stress to reduce the incidence of teacher burnout, and the subsequent injurious physical and psychological manifestations of stress and burnout.