Essays in Education


The author of this study examined patterns of stress and coping mechanisms for practicing school administrators. Specifically sources of stress and coping strategies of first year principals were compared and contrasted with stressors and coping mechanisms of first assistant principals. At two established professional development cadres, the researcher facilitated discussions among participants, and reflective questions were posed about stressors and stress management. Individual and group responses were recorded, summarized, categorized, and tallied. The findings were that first year principals and first year assistant principals were most stressed by: uncontrollable demands on their time, the negative impact of the amount of time that the job required on their personal lives, their prospective staffs, and the amount of conflict encountered. The findings from this study support previous research in regards to problems faced by first year administrators. When contrasting first year principals to first year assistant principals, differences in the source of stress between the groups occurred in two key areas: job roles and policy issues. When examining the results in regards to recommendations for ways to cope with stress, first year principals and first year assistant principals had these strategies at the top of their lists: sense of humor, venting, and exercise. Assistant principals specifically mentioned that talking with their colleagues and significant others were helpful forms of venting. These findings were similar to previous research studies. In examining differences between the two groups, first year principals had prayer as one of their top strategies. In addition, first year principals seemed to cite more strategies that they could use during the work day whereas the first year assistant principals listed more strategies to be used outside of the work day.

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