OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND IT’S EFFECT ON TEACHERS PERFORMANCE IN THE CLASSROOM: A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN KOLOKUMA/OPUKUMA LGA OF BAYELSA STATE
Teacher stress is a much talked of phenomenon, however there is little consensus between different professional groups regarding its etiology, or how to tackle it. Based on a review of international research, it is concluded that teacher stress is a real phenomenon and that high levels are reliably associated with a range of causal factors, including those intrinsic to teaching, individual vulnerability and systemic influences.
The understanding of stress originated in the empirical research of Derogatis (1987), who conducted his research using the Derogatis Stress Profile (DSP), a psychological questionnaire to measure individuals’ stress dispositions. Derogatis based this questionnaire on Lazarus’s (1966) social interaction theory of stress which consequently led us towards Lazurus’s more recent research and theories of stress and how to cope with it. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) define stress as a particular interaction between the person and the environment. The person appraised or evaluated the environment as being taxing or exceeding his or her personal resources. This disrupts his or her daily routines.
According to Derogatis, stress may be defined as a state of psychological pressure influenced by three main sources or domains: personality mediators (put together of time pressure, driven behaviour, attitude posture, relaxation potential, and role definition); environmental factors (constituting of vocational satisfaction, domestic satisfaction, and health posture); and emotional responses (such as hostility, anxiety, and depression).
Derogatis accordingly explains that these three sources must be studied interactively to develop a comprehensive account of psychological stress.
With nervous energy skyrocketing, the teachers need understanding and support, they need voices of reason to counteract both the stress-inducing messages they get from this culture, work and the demoralizing, self-defeating beliefs, some of them persist in telling themselves. Many signs of stress are so common that they are accepted as the normal, even expected, cost of leading busy, productive lives. Teachers should be aware of basic truths about the insidious, sometimes devastating, effects of stress on people throughout the live.
Individuals may experience burnout as a result of stress itself, a sudden breakdown of their mediating coping mechanisms, or an ineffectiveness of their mediating coping mechanisms over a Long period of time (Guglielmi & Tatrow, 1998; Vandenberghe & Huberman, 1999). Burnout has traditionally been viewed as having three components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment. Burnout is most frequently measured using Maslach’s Burnout Inventory (Maslach & Jackson, 1981). A feeling of burnout is not a direct effect of repeated exposures to stressful situations. However, Burnout is mediated through various active and passive coping mechanisms and is a result of the accumulation of positively and negatively oriented emotional responses that have arisen through coping mechanisms.
Too much stress can contribute to health problems. Stress can also reduce the ability to perform at the highest levels (Chan, 1998). The negative effects of stress can impact negatively on performance and quality of life. The effects of stress are unmistakably many. They include increase heart rate, speed breathing or held breath, tightens muscle to prepare to fight or to flee, directing blood to the brain and major muscles (away from digestion, hands/feet, Reproductive organs), releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, slows or stops digestion, causes the brain to be more reactive/less thoughtful, increases perspiration, reduces immune system response (Guglielmi and Tatrow, 1998). Tension headaches, neck/back/shoulder pain, tight jaw, sleeping problems, fatigue, loss of concentration, learning problems can increase, irregular or rapid heart rate, migraine headaches, poor circulation, Raynaud Syndrome, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction (in either sex), digestive problems, upset stomach, ulcers, colitis, hormone imbalances, reduction of immune system function, over reaction by immune system (allergies or autoimmune diseases worse), increased asthma activity, increased aging rate, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, poor habit control, over-eating, low energy, prone to accidents or mistakes, can impair communication, poor performance, among others effects are characteristics of stress (Guglielmi and Tatrow, 1998).
According to Kobasa et al. (1985), competitive athletes have been aware of the negative effects of stress on their performance. Tight muscles can drop their time in a track and field sprint by fractions of a second. This can be the difference between winning or losing an event. Since the Eastern European athletes began their mental training in the 1970’s, world class athletes have begun spending as much as 70% of their training time in mental preparation for controlling stress during competition. In the same preparations are golfers, tennis players, softball players, pilots, even law students preparing for the state bar examinations. Their performance has been enhanced with the use of a program that includes stress management, visualization, and skill development. This process has also worked for managers, executives, policemen, professional sales people, teachers, and even dentists.