Secondary school teachers perception of the types of stress experienced in the school setting

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Murphy, Claire
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This study investigates Teachers’ perceptions of the level of stress they experience as a direct result of their occupation, within the classroom and related to external factors, including Management, Society, and Government. A qualitative methodology was employed using a semi-structured interview. Six participants were interviewed, three male and three female; each with at least twenty years experience. The schools were representative of schools in Ireland and included advantaged and disadvantaged, urban and rural. The aim of the study was to show that teacher stressors and coping mechanisms in Ireland have changed over the past twenty years. The results supported this overall aim with student misbehaviour, parental interference, perceived societal reduced value of the teacher, a feeling of isolation, the inflexibility of the curriculum and mixed ability students within mainstream classrooms being cited as the major differentials. However, stress response was not shown to be a key coping strategy. Differentials were seen between the male and the female participants relative to the experience of emotional exhaustion. Limitations in the study included a small cohort of six participants; a lack of variety in the type of participant; some errors in the design of the questionnaire; the lack of a specific methodology to measure the participant’s stress. Recommendations include the need to more fully evaluate the impact of the changed society on teachers, both from the teacher’s perspective and societies; a comparative national study to evaluate if female teachers experience emotional exhaustion more than males; the need to incorporate stress education and training as a preventative measure in all schools nationally.