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Teachers and work-related stress. Knowing it to prevent it. Italian scenery. Unione degli Assessorati alle Politiche Socio-Sanitarie e del Lavoro. Introduction. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Italian sceneryKnowing it to prevent it Unione degli Assessoratialle Politiche Socio-Sanitarie e del Lavoro

  • IntroductionNowadays, the teaching profession runs on diverse levels, often conflicting with each other and difficult to manage, which often lead to a state of insecure situation between, from one side, the increase in requests and the load of responsibility, and from the other, the lack of consideration for their role, resulting in vulnerability situations. This and many other factors can create stress.

  • Social recognition of teachers:an emptied role Teachers play a fundamental role for students; they tend to become a point of reference with whom students create an emotional and cognitive link. The educational process involves affective and emotional skills that imply a heavy involvement from teachers.Families, from one side, expect support in children education, from the other, put in discussion and dont recognize, too often in recent years, the teachers role, which can become a prejudices source or target for wider social issues.

  • Favretto and Rappagliosi point out that:In the past

    School was held in great consideration and, therefore, teachers enjoyed notable prestige.Today

    School has got a care and training function, leading to a devaluation of the role and of the same teachers. Social issues that have their roots in the continuous, gradual loss of the role of the school, of the teaching, and of the same teachers, debased in their role by the specter of the dreaded "fund cuts" deriving from some discussed reforms.

  • Multidisciplinary and advanced skillsTeachers always are required new tasks and skills related to management of new situations deriving from deep social changes, such as: The increasing presence of students from other cultures; the presence of students with disabilities; new technologies advent.

    Teachers class gradually has lost importance even for a surplus of teachers in the job market and an increase in precarious conditions.

  • Nowadays, teachers, whose main role is to educate and transmit knowledge, have to play several other roles, that can cause stress.

    CULTURE MEDIATOR: Teachers have to transmit a culture based on values and ideal models that easily come into conflict with the "mass culture " ones.EVALUATOR: Teachers have to be able to evaluate students in the most impersonal possible way.EXPERT IN EDUCATIONAL PLANNING AND TEAM MEMBER: Teachers have to be able to harmonize their own work with the colleagues one, to compare and improve themselves through a good relationship.ALTERNATIVE PARENT OR PSYCHOLOGIST: Teachers have to investigate psychological nature, relational or family problems, to find out the causes of some unexplained scholastic gaps of pupils.

  • From a research conducted by the sociologist Alessandro Cavalli we can deduce that teachers really satisfied with their jobs are only 20%; 16% of them are stressed and 44% are uninterested, that is, those who continue to teach reacting in line with the sine cura and sine ira et studio attitude. The remaining 20% arent included in any category.

  • The work-related stress at schoolWork-related stress can be defined in general as a harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when the requirements of the job dont correspond to abilities, resources, or needs of the worker (National Institute for Occupational Safety, 1999).The data reported in literature confirms that difficulties result in absenteeism, not only by teachers but also by students (Sosik and Godshalk, 2000), and their profit levels are correlated with the relationship quality they establish with teachers (Cadigan, Entwisle, Alexander and Pallas, 1998; Plant, 1999).During the years we have seen a succession of theoretical currents that have tried to redefine and study in deep the stress theme.

  • Caprara and Borgogni (1988) define work-related stress as a result of the interaction between organizational and psychological characteristics of the worker: people may experience stress when they perceive a great lack of balance between the demands of the organization and their abilities. It happens because people are afraid of not being able to cope with them.

    The stress definition that today seems to prevail is the one given by Cooper, Dewe and O ' Driscoll [ 2001]: stress is "the result of a process that involves individuals during their interaction with the environment, evaluating these links and looking for strategies to cope with the problems that have emerged " and not simply a factor that resides or in individuals or in environment.

  • Cooper model (1988) explains the work-related stress through a discussion about possible sources of stress at work, conceived originally as "pressure" of the environment on the individual, divided into five categories:Intrinsic job sources: all the physical and environmental factors that impact negatively on the efficiency of work performance (noise, vibration, temperature changes, lighting, lack of environmental hygiene; pressures arising from workload, long hours, frequent travels, etc.) and, above all, the factors related to the task, the so-called " task-demands ", as the workload, the time pressure and the presence of high responsibility, especially those related to other people lives.Role in organization: A stress source is the "role ambiguity", i.e. the lack of clarity with respect to the task, or role conflict, that occurs when workers have to deal with requests that are incompatible with each other.

  • Career development is a source of stress when subjective ambitions to emerge, to advance hierarchically in your organization are disappointed. It can be a source of stress even a promotion if people feel inadequate to fill their assigned role, causing frustration and self-esteem fall.Work relationships: difficulties in relationships with colleagues, superiors, etc.. In this area five stressors are identified. Incongruity between the role of position you want and the one you really play; Social density; Leadership style; Abrasive personality; Team pressures to conform to its own norms.

  • Structure and organizational climate: they are two other variables that, if you dont feel as reassuring and positive, can cause stress.Brown and Ralph (1998) identify possible stress sources at school. Six different categories:Teachers/pupils relationships: dimension of the classroom and its heterogeneity, the lack of discipline, the levels of motivation and general attitude of students during the lessons.Relationship with colleagues: distribution of workloads, interpersonal conflicts and differences with colleagues, lack of communication, lack of collaborative spirit.Relationship with parents/community: parents can also contribute to the appearance of stress experienced by teachers. From the point of view of community, stressors for teachers are for example low salary, the image shown by media in relation to the profession and the general attitude of mistrust towards the public education.

  • Innovation and change: the frequent reforms of the educational systems influence stress levels, especially when they arent clear and shared.School organizational management: the role of school leaders is central in determining teachers perceptions. In cases in which the general organization is not appropriate, or in which there is no technical and administrative support, stress feelings are higher. In this category we can find also the degree of teacher involvement in decision making processes and the perception of autonomy and control in career choices.Temporal factors related to the task: an increase in number and complexity of tasks intuitively increase stress responses.

  • Stress sourcesAn interesting model, which tries to investigate the relationship between working environment "pressures" and worker response, especially in terms of "strain ", i.e. physical and psychological effort, is the Karasek and Theorell model (1990).

    In particular, focus is on two variablesThe request, i.e. the workload imposed by the task.The control, i.e. the ability perceived by individuals to carry out their task and discretion in executing it.The combination of these two factors gives place to four different work psychosocial experiences :

  • High - strain jobs: characterized by a high demand and a low degree of control (they can easily lead to anxiety, depression and emotional exhaustion);

    Active jobs: defined by a high demand and a high degree of control and discretion from people on their own employment, having so the possibility to express their own abilities to the best. This work typology helps people to reach a high productivity and learning level and increases their sense of competence and mastery;

    Low demand and high control jobs: usually, they dont give any problem of psychological tension to workers and are often carried out with satisfaction;

    Passive jobs: characterized by low demand and commitment, but by an equally limited opportunity to make better use of skills. They dont create stress, but can get bored and inhibit learning skills.

  • Consequences of work-related stressA very extensive literature highlights an equally wide range of symptoms at physiological level especially those affecting the immune and psychological system functionality with symptoms ranging from anxiety reactions, chronic fatigue to depression and burnout. Some physiological responses to stress include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate, pupil dilation, decreased salivation, gastric hyperacidity, increased sweating.

    Brown and Ralph (1998) distinguishthe performance levelthe relationships levelthe emotional -behavioural level

  • In terms of performan