Stress, coping strategies, perceived personal control and well-being at work of teachers
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Teaching is a sophisticated profession of passion that extends beyond the academics of teacher and learner. The work of a teacher is complex and challenging as there is no limit to the ever-changing roles and responsibilities expected from a teacher. South African teachers are expected to manage various challenges and cope effectively with stressors such as poor learner discipline, administrative demands due to continuous changes made to curriculum and unrealistic learner performance expectations on teachers by the Educational Department. The many uncertainties experienced, an inability to effectively cope with various demands forced upon teachers and the adapting to changes and challenges appear to contribute to undesirable, sometimes detrimental consequences on teaching and learning. An intensive review of relevant literature indicates that the teaching profession is an extremely stressful occupation. Exposure to these stressful conditions has psychological consequences for some teachers. This study included 209 teachers from eight schools (primary, secondary and special education schools), under jurisdiction of the Gauteng Department of Education in the Vereeniging, Sedibeng East District in the Gauteng province. The data were obtained in two measurement sessions from the same group of participants (longitudinal) referred to as Time 1 and Time 2. The study aimed to investigate whether teacher stress could be effectively managed through or positively influenced by adaptive coping strategies and a sense of personal control and whether these factors could enhance their psychosocial well-being at work. In relation to that, the study’s aims included the following objectives: (a) study the existing research findings in literature pertaining to the stated variables, (b) determine by means of structural equation modelling the statistical relationships between the stated variables at two occasions, four months apart, (c) determine direct and indirect effects between the variables, (d) identify latent profile (LPA) groups in participants for perceived stress and perceived personal control, (e) determine whether profile memberships could be predicted by and correlate with participants’ performance on the other variables used in the study, (f) determine whether, of the variables mentioned, could predict the intention to leave the profession and (g) investigate if a four months’ time interval had an effect on participants’ scores on the variables measured. The comprehensive, critical literature review conceptualised the following concepts, their antecedents, consequences and influential relationships: perceived stress, coping and coping strategies, perceived personal control, flourishing at work, psychosocial well-being and intention to leave. The findings of the study were amongst others, that it identified four latent stress profiles for teachers, namely stress resisters, manage stress, overloaded and highly stressed. Those identified as stress resisters and manage stress scored significantly lower on two coping strategies, namely denial and disengagement, and self-blame, than those who showed stress-overloaded and highly stressed profiles. Results further indicated two latent profiles of personal control, labelled as doubtful personal control and confident personal control. Mental health of teachers was predicted by low negative stress and active coping. Low mental health at work and high negative stress predicted the intention to leave the teaching profession. It appears that teachers who experience positive stress are more mentally healthy, experiencing higher emotional well-being, psychological well-being and social well-being at work over time.
- Health Sciences