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BCTF Research Report

Section III

Teaching in the '90s
Report No. 2: Changing Sources of Stress

By Larry Kuehn, Director
Research and Technology

Feeling job-related stress? You are not alone. The pressures on teachers reflect societal and system changes that have intensified the work of teaching.

However, the top causes of stress, as identified by teachers, have changed in recent years—based on BCTF surveys of members in 1986, and then again in the spring of 1993.

Some points to note about changes, as perceived by teachers:

  • Composition of class and mainstreaming of students with special needs are more significant causes of stress now than in 1986.
  • Decreasing real salary was a high stressor in 1986—after four years of wage controls imposed by the Social Credit government of the day.
  • Bargaining success after achieving union status moved salary issues out of the top eleven.
  • Bargaining success since 1986 also knocked "lack of preparation time" out of the top eleven. Most teachers now have preparation time in contract.
  • The top stressor is seeing the "unmet needs of students." This is the student-focused view. Close behind is the teacher-focused side of the same phenomenon, "size of workload."
Teaching in the '90s is a series of reports based on a survey of B.C. teachers conducted in May and June of 1993. It constitutes a culture map of B.C. teachers, looking at teacher practices and a range of current issues in education. 2,000 questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of BCTF members. 735 responses were entered into a Teaching in the '90s database, and form the basis of the report.

Top Eleven Causes of Stress Among B.C. Teachers

1986 1993
  1. Attitude/actions of provincial government
  2. Unmet needs of students
  3. Decreasing real salary
  4. Size of workload
  5. Attitude of public
  6. Size of class
  7. Lack of preparation time
  8. Composition of class
  9. Attitute/actions of school board
  10. Mainstreaming of special needs students
  11. Lack of control of work envronment
  1. Unmet needs of students
  2. Composition of class
  3. Size of workload
  4. Attitude/actions of provincial government
  5. Inclusion of students with special needs
  6. Media attacks on teachers and education
  7. Attitudes/action of school board
  8. Size of class too large
  9. Attitude of public
  10. Rapid change in programs and curriculum
  11. Lack of control of work environment
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