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Abstract

Teacher stress has received scant attention in Ireland. This study examines teachers’ perceptions of their daily stresses and how they attempt to cope with such situations. Interviews were conducted with fifteen secondary teachers from a variety of school types in eastern Ireland. The teachers showed great concern for their students, with some being prepared to ignore school guidelines in order to deal with their pupils’ needs. Several particularly stressful factors were identified, including the maintenance of boundaries (especially when dealing with students with personal problems), dealing with disruptive student behaviour, and the heavy workload. These stresses closely mirrored those described in international literature. Levels of stress and methods of dealing with stress varied widely among the sample, with primary support coming from their colleagues. One strong finding was the lack of suitable training and preparation felt by the participants, particularly in methods of dealing with sensitive and stressful situations in pupils, and in appropriate means of reaction to student misbehaviour. It is recommended that teacher-training courses include explicit training in dealing with such situations.

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