Becoming the teacher who 'can' : transformation through teacher self-efficacy and stress management
Nelson, Laurie Christine
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Deemed as a helping profession, teaching requires a combination of knowledge, skill and commitment to others. Teachers must assume varied roles in highly complex environments that fall under high accountability and demand, marking it as a stressful occupation. Particularly vulnerable are those learning to teach; they must be prepared for the realities of today's classroom, understanding the multiple roles that will be required of them. They experience a role-reversal as they transform from student to teacher. In order to negotiate this shift in perspective they must possess both an optimistic belief in their competence and ability to cope with the demands. This phenomenological study examined the experiences of secondary education pre-service teachers as they transformed from student to teacher. It captured a sense of their general and personal preconceptions regarding stress and coping, their experiences of stress and coping as they learned to teach, and the supports and resources that they perceived as preparing them to enter the teaching profession, particularly with teacher self-efficacy. The development and implementation of a stress management workshop served a dual purpose to provide a stage to build teacher self-efficacy. Three theories provided a foundation for the conceptual framework: Karasek's (1979) Job Demand-Control-Support Theory, Mezirow's (1999) Transformational Learning Theory, and Bandura's (1977) Self-Efficacy Theory. The participants were eight secondary English teacher candidates. Qualitative interviews and data collected from the workshop highlighted transformational profiles analyzed to capture the transformation. The results indicated emerging themes of trust, connection, purpose and balance as important tenets to cultivate teacher self-efficacy. These tenets were promoted through earlier and extended time in field experiences, social support through networks and learning communities, critical reflective activities and self-care initiatives. The stress management workshop provided a mediating support. The significance of this study may inform those who prepare teaching professional about proactive ways to build teacher self-efficacy and promote wellness among teacher candidates.