Stress Among Public Elementary School Teachers

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Text of Stress Among Public Elementary School Teachers

Vol. 01 No.4

June 2009

STRESS AMONG PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS1

Chona C. Roxas, M.A.

ABSTRACT The study dealt on stress among the public elementary school teachers in Baguio City, Philippines. With a sample size of 320 and using descriptive-survey as methodology, the researcher found that the stress felt by the teachers is at normal level. Moreover, it was revealed that gender, age, and civil status do not have significant influence on the level of stress experienced by the teachers. It was recommended that stress awareness programs and activities be instituted by the public elementary schools of Baguio city to minimize the impact of stress among the teachers. Key Words: Elementary School Teacher, Occupational Stress, Sources of Stress, Stress Management Program

I. INTRODUCTION Economic development and education are interrelated. Schultz (1998) claims that the economic development of a nation is a function of the quality of its education. In other words, the better educated the people, the greater the chances of economic development. Thus, in a global setting, investment in human capital has become a condition for international competitiveness. One of the most accessible ways to achieve and start a globally competitive educational system is to train and produce educators who are not only intellectually adept with teaching skills but who are also emotionally and socially committed to the teaching profession. Ho (2006) claimed that the teacher-learner duality demands a goal of continuous development in order to anticipate the professional future because at the center of information on technology and communication is still the human person-the teacher.

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Faculty, College of Teacher Education

The life of an individual is centered on his work and company. Work is a major part of human lives. A man needs to work in order to 86

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survive; therefore, most part of his life is spent in work. Hence, at work, sources of stress are inevitable and humans tend to react to such stressors leading to emotional and physical problems. Prolonged exposure to stress may even lead to more serious health problems. Elementary school teachers play a vital role in the development of children. They introduce children to the basics of numbers, language, science, and social studies. They use games, music, artwork, films, slides, computers, and other teaching technology to teach basic skills. Elementary school teachers take the time to model and instill good habits and a curiosity for learning. Stress is a part of the fabric of life. Nothing can isolate stress from human beings as evidenced from various researches and studies. Stress can be managed but not simply done away with. Defining stress is a very complex matter, which is the subject of different analyses and continuous debate among experts. Beyond the details of this debate, a general consensus can be reached about a definition of stress, which is centered around the idea of a perceived imbalance in the interface between an individual, the environment and other individuals. When people are faced with demands from others or demands from the physical or psycho-social environment to which they feel unable to adequately respond, a reaction of the organism is activated to cope with the situation. The nature of this response depends upon a combination of different elements, including the extent of the demand, the personal characteristics and coping resources of the person, the constraints on the person in trying to cope and the support received from others.

Okebukola and Jegede (1989) defined occupational stress as a condition of mental and physical exertion brought about as a result of harassing events or dissatisfying elements or general features of the working environment. This definition coincides with a research conducted by Levi(1996) who posited that stress is cost by a multitude of demands

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(stressors) such an inadequate fit between what we need andwhat we capable of, and what our environment offers and what it demands of us. Also, Kyriacou (1987) defined teacher stress as the experience by a teacher of unpleasant emotions such as tension, frustration, anger and depression resulting from aspects of his work as a teacher. From the point of view of Levine and Ursin (1991), stress is a part of an adaptive biological system, where a state is created when a central processor registers an informational discrepancy. In essence, stress can be considered as any factor, acting internally or externally, that makes it difficult to adapt and that induces increased effort on the part of the person to maintain a state of equilibrium both internally and with the external environment. In congruence, Steinberg and Ritzmann (1990) affirmed that stress is an underload or overload of matter, energy or information input to, or output from, a living system. Borg (1990) has also conceptualized teacher stress as a negative and potentially harmful to teachers health. The key element in the definition is the teachers perception of threat based on the following three aspects of his job circumstances. 1. that demands are being made on him. 2. that he is unable to meet or has difficulty in meeting these demands, and 3. that failure to meet these demands threatens his mental/physical well being. According to the Department of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, U.S.A. (1999), job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses the occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury. From a discussion document presented by the Health and Safety Commission of London, U.K. (1999), stress is the reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.

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Allen (2002) claimed that stress is a feeling we experience, when we loose confidence in our capability to cope with a situation. It is a state characterized by high levels of arousal and distress and often by feelings of not coping.

To a scientist, stress is any action or situation that places special physical or psychological demands upon a person, anything that can unbalance his individual equilibrium. And while the physiological response to such demand is surprisingly uniform, the forms of stress are innumerable. Stress may be even but unconscious like the noise of a city or the daily chore of driving the car. Perhaps the one incontestable statement that can be made about stress is that it belongs to everyone- to businessmen and professors, to mother and their children, to factory workers.Recognizing the varied tasks of a public school teacher, stress is undoubtedly inherent and regardless of other factors, the process of teaching is, in itself, quite stressful. Many teachers find the demands of being a professional educator in today's schools difficult and at times stressful. When work stress results in teacher burnout, it can have serious consequences for the health and happiness of teachers, and also the students, professionals, and families they interact with on a daily basis. Occupational stress, which is believed to have an effect on the health of workers, is the concern of every institution. Present studies prove that psychosomatic disorders are noted to develop if workers experience prolonged exposure to job stress. Therefore, there is a necessity to find out the factors associated with stress to be able to identify them and prevent exposure to these stressors. Due to insufficiency of empirical studies on the sources of stress in the public schools, this study wants to have an empirical evidence of the stress causing factors among the faculty members. Determination of these factors may prevent the teaching force from over exposure and from other disorders that may affect the workers 89

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efficiency. It is for this reason that the researcher deemed it necessary to find out the factors associated with stress among faculty members of the public elementary schools in Baguio City. This study aimed to investigate the occupational stress among faculty members of the public elementary school teachers in Baguio City. Specifically, it sought to answer the following questions: 1. What is the level of occupational stress of the of the public elementary school teachers in Baguio City? 2. How do the stress levels of the respondents compare

when they are grouped according to: a. gender; b. age; c. teaching experience; and d. civil status? 3. What are the potential sources of occupational stress of teachers among the public school elementary teachers in Baguio City? II. METHODOLOGY Since the objective of the study was to determine and analyze occupational stress among public elementary school teachers in Baguio City, the researcher utilized the descriptivesurvey method of research. Such method was employed because it involved description, recording, analysis, and interpretations of existing conditions. Involved in the conduct of the study were the teachers of the public elementary schools in Baguio City, school year 2008-2009, with a total sample size of 320. Samples from population of teachers were employed using the stratified random sampling procedure in order to have proportionate representation from each district. Table 1 shows the distribution of the sample respondents according to gender, teaching experience, civil status and age. To gather the needed data, the researcher personally administered a self-constructed questionnaire. The questionnaire

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was formulated based on the ideas and insights taken from the different authori