Date of Award

4-12-2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership with a Global Perspective

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

William J. Leary

Second Advisor

Barbara Jeanne Burdsall

Third Advisor

Carole Warshaw

Abstract

Considering the key position principals hold and the impact that this has on all aspects of school life, it was reasonable to argue that better understanding of the problems and stresses they face would shed more light on the complex nature and dynamics of stress. Walter Gmelch maintained that sources of stress for the school principal were divided into four broad categories: role-based, taskbased, boundary-spanning, and conflict-mediating. Public and political pressure to improve student performance coupled with the arduous task of removing tenured incompetent teachers poses pressing problems for school principals.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the relationship between teacher termination and its effect on the levels of stress of principals. If there was increased stress associated with teacher termination, was the stress more significant than other stressors associated with the principalship?

This qualitative study was conducted in one of the largest school districts in the state and in the nation. The Administrative Stress Index questionnaire was administered to selected principals and follow-up interviews were conducted, tape recorded, and transcribed.

Principals in this study clearly indicated that a central difficulty for them, as administrators, was the excessive amount of time needed to assist and support teachers who were less than effective. The interviews also indicated that the experienced principals were more critical of the events that occurred out of their locus of control and therefore increased the level of boundary-spanning stress. The less experienced principals continued to struggle with the issue of career termination and its' impact on the person and on task-based stress.

It was recommended that school districts recognize the stress associated with termination by providing comprehensive training programs for principals in stress maintenance. Colleges and universities who prepare educators should introduce a distance-learning program in stress management for school administrators. Further study was recommended on this topic as it related to middle-school and high-school principals.

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