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Exploring coping strategies employed by teachers to manage daily workload.

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Teacher workload has been the subject of interest for both local and international researchers alike. These studies have sought to investigate: how teachers perceive their workload, actual teacher working hours, possible solutions to work overload and coping resources used by teachers to manage their workload. The findings have consistently shown that teachers are faced with heavy workloads. As a teacher who once exited the profession due to burn out, I sought to conduct an investigation into how other teachers were managing to cope with workload. The majority of the previous studies employed quantitative research designs and made use of questionnaires and surveys as data generation methods. I identified a gap and saw the need to conduct a qualitative study on how teachers cope with workload. A teacher’s workload is divided into teaching duties, extra and co-curricular duties, administrative duties, interaction with stakeholders and communication. The focus of this study is on teacher workload as it relates to the teaching duties. These duties include planning, preparation, assessment, recording and reporting. The study has adopted a qualitative research design and in-depth interviews were conducted with seven teachers from two high schools. Domain analysis and open-coding were used to categorise data into themes during the data analysis stage. Apple (1986)’s theory of work intensification and Gronn’s concept of distributed leadership formed the framework underpinning this research. The findings revealed that work intensification may yield both negative and positive results. The study reported that the participants faced heavy workloads in the form of administrative and co-curricular duties, working in one-man departments, and working long hours. It was, however, found that teachers were finding ways of managing this overloading. The report of a heavy workload was therefore found not to be synonymous with the inability to cope. Some of the coping strategies reported in the study included collaborative teaching, the use of archived assessment tools, planning in the holidays, the use of written feedback and archived report comments. It is a recommendation of this study that school leaders actively research ways of promoting teacher collaboration as well as creating platforms through which teachers can freely share their experiences in non-threatening environments. I also recommend as an area for further research that studies be conducted with the aim of establishing compatibility between teaching time and the syllabi for various teaching subjects.


M. Ed. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2015.


Teachers--Workload., Teachers--Time management., Teachers--Job stress., Teachers--Attitudes., Theses--Education.