Managing teacher stress in Secondary Schools in Mahikeng, South Africa
Pelser, Anna Magrieta Fredrika
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This study focuses on stress management of educators, and specifically in the Mahikeng Area. The study consists of four appropriately researched sections (paraphrased in article format), namely: - The first article place the known facts of the topic of teacher participation in stress management in the context of management and leadership in education. The emphasis in the conceptual and theoretical framework was on showing points of connection between leadership and management on the one hand and stress on the other. The investigation focused on how theoretical points of departure impact on teachers and how teachers experience stress through participation or non-participation in school management. An Organisational Stress Screening Tool was used to measure potential exposure to stress in respect of common workplace stressors. Although many different theories of stress management can be applied, the reality is that managerial leadership still features strongly in schools and transformational and distributed leadership does not provide realistic alternatives to stress management theories in schools. - The second article reports on the stress educators are experiencing in the Middle and Secondary Schools in the Mahikeng Region, the provincial capital of the North West Province of South Africa, more specifically in the Ngaka Modidi Molema District. Data were collected by visiting all the schools from five clusters. A standardized questionnaire (ASSET) was used to determine the causes of stress in the lives of educators. A theoretical and quantitative investigation was done. A total of 955 educators are employed in the secondary and middle schools in the five clusters, therefore a total of 955 questionnaires were issued. School principals were consulted to ask the teachers to consent to contribute free-willingly to the survey. A total of 365 completed questionnaires were returned and subjected to statistical analysis (38% of the sample). Nine factors contributing to teachers’ stress were identified, with a cumulative variance of 68.45%. These factors are: Managerial Practices, Relationship with work, Perception on main causes of work pressure, Career opportunities, Negative Job Expectations, Work Success, Leadership and management, Remuneration and Communication. Each of these factorial clusters is discussed in detail. - The third article endeavours to reveal the roles of various stakeholders in the management of teachers’ stress. Previous articles on the work done in this project discussed, among others, stressors in the lives of teachers in the Mahikeng area, South Africa. It was found that a lack of leadership or the weak implementation of management principles lead to stress among teachers. This article refers to follow-up research in terms of which a qualitative research design as well as a theoretical investigation was utilised to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities of stakeholders in the management of teachers’ stress. The research re-emphasised that there is a direct link between the external educational environment in which teachers operate and the stress levels they experience. Although stress is not viewed as a life threatening condition that necessitates urgent intervention in schools, it must be managed on a day-to-day basis. Teachers worked out their own methods or routines to cope with stressful situations but they are also well aware of the fact that senior members of the School Management Team play a critical role in handling teacher’s stress. It is recommended that because untreated stress could have a devastating effect on teachers and leave the teacher corps ineffective and inept the management of schools need advanced training in mastering of the stress management of their own stress as well as that of their subordinates. -The fourth article’s focus is to examine a strategy for the implementation of stress management in schools. The authors used an evaluative and integrative literature review to investigate information that pertains to related concepts, the nature and place of strategies in education, elements of strategies and imperatives of stress management in education. An action plan for the management of stress in education was then compiled. Emphasis is placed consistently on the fact that stress must be managed proactively and reactively at school level by those in managerial positions such as school principals. The sampling method used was convenience sampling which is part of nonprobability sampling. The Mahikeng area is divided into clusters. All educators (955) in the different clusters in the Mahikeng area formed part of the sample. The features of the sample selected matched those of the population of teachers employed by The Department of Basic Education. A total of 365 respondents completed the questionnaires resulting in a response rate of 38%. The study employed the statistical software programme SPSS 17.0 for Windows to analyse the data. A number of quantitative statistical techniques befitting the doctoral level of research were used to analyse the data. Techniques used were: - Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy; - Bartlett’s test of sphericity; - Exploratory factor analysis; - Cronbach Alpha’s reliability coefficient; and - Pearson’s correlation coefficient. The major findings of the study were: -In the first article three major leadership theories were scrutinized to assess which theory are the most applicable in the managing of stress problems. It was evident from the study that the leadership theory mostly employed was managerial leadership. The study also revealed that transformational and distributed leadership did not function actively in the management of stress in schools. -The second article identified causes of stress. These causes account for a favourable 68.45% of the variance explained and are: Managerial Practices, Relationship with work, Perception on main causes of work pressure, Career opportunities, Negative Job Expectations, Work Success, Leadership and management, Remuneration and Communication. - The third article acknowledges the roles of the various stakeholders in the management of teachers’ stress. The study revealed that in order to be successful in rendering assistance to teachers regarding stress management, the management of the school need advanced training in stress management of subordinates and themselves as stress has a devastating effect. To render assistance to teachers with stress, one should first assess what the genesis of the stress is; whether it is from an individual or from an organisational provenance. - The fourth article created an action plan for alleviating stress. The strategy was shaped out of strategic planning which covered a wide field of study. The strategic plan involved long-term changes. Through the strategic framework the structures and processes were created to engage individuals within the school in dialogues and conversation regarding strategic direction. The main elements of a strategy namely envisioning, value management, communication, training and development and, empowerment were all incorporated whilst the strategy was drafted. With Shared vision as element for the drafting of strategies, creative organizational tension would be generated, and the energy and intellectual stimulation it evokes, will serve as a binding determinant uniting stakeholders. Strategic participation entails joint decision making, teamwork and goal setting to achieve collective objectives. Staff would be motivated and encouraged by providing support, clear expectations and proper guidelines. Capacity assessment would take place, as this is a critical process for overall human development. This action plan is needed to create an effective school, one with high expectations for staff and learners, collaboration and focused sustained professional development. The future of education appears austere as a horrendous total of well trained teachers leave the profession due to excruciating stress levels they are experiencing. Anti-depressants seems not to be the elucidatory antidote to this escalating problem as it devour all role players in education and cascades over to the personal life of the teacher. Exploratory measures would be applied to salvage this devastating effects of stress on the life of teachers. Due to the statistical evidence collected from trustworthy sources countrywide, on teachers leaving the profession due to stress symptoms, the researcher has reason to believe that this stress conditions is prevalent in all the different areas of South Africa. Recommendations made by the researcher throughout the study would have to be adhered to in order to save the teacher corps from demise. The non-adherence to recommendations caused the stress to accumulate - a plague spreading to the family life of teachers and also to students and colleagues. This is not an unsolvable problem as most of the stressors are from an external or environmental source. The appointment of proficient School Management Team (SMT) members in schools and knowledgeable Departmental Education Specialist (DES) teachers as subject advisors will suffice to combat the stress problems and gear the education towards a new level where teachers are happy and learners performing. Urgent obligatory training for school managers on the management of stress is needed. A program for incentives have to be developed to reward outstanding performance of teachers in different levels of teaching. Recreation facilities should be prospected. Special programs like Yoga, Pilates, Calanetics and Aerobic exercises to relieve stress and uplift the spirit can be practiced and presented by teachers for teachers. Proficient people have to be appointed in the Human Resources Department and queries would be dealt with immediately. Timeous filling of vacant teaching positions by the Human Resources Department would occur. Effective communication between all school levels would help to solve a number of problems. An induction program is necessary to alleviate the stress of newly appointed teachers. Teachers should be made aware of different stress programs available in the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and Wellness program system. The managing of stress concern all the role players in education and everybody should partake. “Teaching should not be the swallowing of a handful of anti-depressants, it should be the correction of a spelling error - stressed spelled backwards forms the word – desserts”.
- Education 
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