Lived Experiences of Teacher Stress

Prof Doc Thesis

Reed, B.. (2024). Lived Experiences of Teacher Stress [Prof Doc Thesis]. Australian Catholic University Faculty of Education and Arts
AuthorsReed, B.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Education

The current teacher shortage gripping education sectors the world over has been decades in the making. Teachers’ workloads have increased incrementally over the years, almost by stealth, to the point where the profession is now distinctly unappealing and a hotbed of stress and confusion. Formerly enthusiastic and dedicated educators are seeking pathways out of the classroom at the exact moment in their careers when they should be operating at the peak of the powers - drawing on their years of experience to develop and deliver enriching and expertly crafted lessons for their students. Researchers and professionals have long expressed concerns over the high levels of stress experienced by teachers. It is distinctly possible that classroom teacher stress has profoundly deleterious effects on experienced classroom teacher retention, and the overall quality of teaching. Recommendations have been made for further qualitative research in order to hear from the teachers themselves and benefit from their perspectives on teacher stress. Employing a phenomenological framework, the aim of this study was to investigate and present the lived experiences of a group of Australian teachers who have worked for years as classroom teachers in a variety of schools and at various levels. Lived experiences are distinguished by the phenomenologist concerning themselves with how individuals experience a phenomenon, and the meaning they connect to it. Semi-structured one-to-one discussions, group dialogical discussions, and individual biographical narratives were used to generate nourishing and detailed descriptions of the phenomenon of teacher stress. The analysis of the data from the discussions and biographical narratives illuminated four key concepts which were then punctuated with essence exemplars, adding the teachers own words and stories to the texture of the phenomenon. The key concepts were (i) bewilderment; (ii) misalignment; (iii) invasion; and (iv) fractured teacher identity. A focus theory then emerged connecting the dissonance that exists between how teachers view themselves as professionals, and the various overwhelming job demands embedded in teaching today. This research also draws extensively on the literature connected to teacher stress, of which there is a considerable and growing body of work reflecting the seriousness and pressing nature of this issue. However, very few studies have explored the unique lived experiences of classroom teachers.

KeywordsTeacher; Stress; Teacher Stress; Phenomenology; Cognitive Dissonance; Bewilderment; Misalignment; Invasion; Fractured Teacher Identity; Lived Experiences; Emotional Dissonance
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-263
Final version
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Supplementary Files (Layperson Summary)
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File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print09 Jul 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted01 Jul 2024
Deposited10 Jul 2024
Additional information

This work © 2024, Brendan Reed.

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