Common Stressors for Teachers

Teaching has its stress as any other job. This post will identify some of the familiar sources of stress in a teacher’s life.

Role Ambiguity

Role ambiguity is defined as a person who is unclear in terms of their job responsibilities. Teaching is a field where high ambiguity can be expected, and academic performance can be highly subjective. Attempts have been made to remove the ambiguity through such things as standardized testing. However, people, including children, are unpredictable, and adequately doing everything does not ensure the results that leadership expects.

When expectations are unclear, it can lead to a great deal of frustration and dissatisfaction for a teacher. There can even be a sense of powerlessness as if the teacher has no control over what happens to them in their classroom. The ambiguous nature of teachers may be why teachers quit, as it is challenging to obtain the expected results without a clear sense of what the expectations are.

Role Conflict

Role conflict is the placing of contrary expectations on a person. For example, teachers are expected to be gentle and nurturing while also maintaining order. An expectation of being nice and being mean simultaneously may be an example of role conflict. Teachers are often put in the position as others are in other occupations.

The effects of role conflict are similar to role ambiguity and generally lack job satisfaction and higher stress levels. Teachers may also lose confidence in leadership as they struggle with competing aspects of their job responsibilities. One common coping mechanism is withdrawal or avoiding others.

Role Overload

Role overload is essentially feelings or a sense of being overworked and unable to complete all assigned tasks. Overload can take two forms. Quantitative overload is having more work than time, while qualitative overload is being pushed beyond one’s skill set, such as being asked to teach math when you are a music teacher.

Teaching can be overloading in either way. Teachers frequently have more to do than time, especially with the amount of documentation, preparation, and grading that are a part of the job. In addition, as mentioned above, having to teach outside of one’s expertise is a common experience for many.

The opposite of overload is underutilization and is another stressor for teachers. Underutilization is a lack of the use of a person’s skills and abilities. This can lead to the stress of boredom, low self-esteem, and job dissatisfaction. The experience of role utilization may happen with experienced teachers who need new challenges.

Personality 

There are several factors concerning the personality and the teacher’s life that can cause stress. For example, teachers with a type A personality are often at a greater risk of stress. Type A personalities are characterized as people who are impatient, restless, and competitive. Type B personalities are generally the opposite of type A and have a more easy-going attitude.

Another personal life stressor is the amount of change and turmoil in a teacher’s life. Illness, death of a loved one, divorce, or any other major life catastrophe can manifest itself in a teacher’s life and lead to a great deal of stress. This may carry over into the classroom and impact job performance as well.

Conclusion

All jobs have stress, but we all need to be reminded of how this stress can occur. Teachers have to know what stressors they may experience so they can find ways to deal with them. Otherwise, the job challenges may be too much for them, leading to the loss of people who have committed to helping others.

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