An investigation of the coping strategies used by teachers to deal with stress.
In large numbers, teachers are reporting high levels of work-related stress. Surveys from many countries reveal widespread concern about the effects of stress on teachers’ wellbeing and willingness to stay in the profession. The purpose of this study was to investigate coping strategies that teachers employ when faced with stress in primary schools located in the North Durban Region of Phoenix. Other related aims were to identify the causes of stress and the most significant factors that contribute to teacher stress. Current research reveal that teacher stress has a detrimental effect not only on their physical, mental, social and emotional well being, but also on their efficiency and productivity in the teaching and learning situation. Statistical analyses revealed that some of the main factors that contributed to teacher stress were large classes, the frequent changes to the curriculum, administrative tasks and the lack of motivation by learners to study. Teachers use a wide range of coping strategies to deal with stress but very few find effective ways to counter the negative effects of stress. Teachers reported that the most effective action that schools or the government could take to reduce teacher stress was to decrease teachers’ workload. These findings are in line with those reported in many western countries where the stress caused by a heavy workload and coping with educational reforms have been very much in evidence. It is anticipated that the present study will be of benefit to teachers, administrators, decision makers and other stakeholders in education.