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Handbook of Stress in the Occupations

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox and Cary Cooper

The Handbook of Stress in the Occupations sets a new agenda for stress research and gives fresh impetus to scholars who wish to focus on issues and problems associated with specific jobs, some of which have received little attention in the past.
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Chapter 9: Teacher Stress: From Prevalence to Resilience

Chris Kyriacou


Chris Kyriacou INTRODUCTION When I published my first paper on teacher stress in 1977, I had no idea how much interest and research this area of concern would generate over the years that have followed (Kyriacou, 2001; Kyriacou & Sutcliffe, 1977). There is little doubt that stress among schoolteachers has become a major topic of research and discussion in many countries throughout the world, and teaching in schools is now widely recognized as being one of the ‘high-stress’ occupations (Dollard et al., 2003; Kyriacou, 2000). The term ‘stress’ in the context of the occupational setting of teaching has been conceptualized by researchers in three main ways (Cole & Walker, 1989; Dunham & Varma, 1998). Some have used the term to denote the level of pressure and demands placed on the teacher. Some have used the term to refer to the teacher’s emotional and behavioural responses to such demands. Yet others have adopted a model where stress is viewed as a transaction (or degree of mismatch) between demands on the teacher on the one hand and the teacher’s resources and capabilities to deal with these demands on the other. My definition of teacher stress (Kyriacou, 2000) has adopted the second of these approaches: stress as referring to a teacher’s emotional reaction to demands. A caveat to note here is that some researchers have used stress to denote a heightened level of emotional arousal, which could be experienced as positive (e.g. excitement) or negative (e.g. anger); my own use of the term exclusively denotes the...

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