Christine A. Harris
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between principal leadership styles and teacher stress as perceived by teachers in three selected low-SES urban elementary schools in Virginia. The schools were selected based on their similar populations, label as a Target school and the principal in term at the school for a minimum of three years.
Three survey instruments, the LEAD-Other and LEAD-Self (Hersey and Blanchard, 1998) and the Wilson Stress Profile for Teachers (WSPT) (Wilson, 1979) were used. Of the sixty-five teachers contacted, fifty-five responded to the LEAD-Other and WSPT surveys for a participation rate of 84.61 percent. All three principals completed the LEAD-Self survey. This information was used to make comparisons between the principal's perception of their leadership style and how it relates to teacher perceptions.
The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Analysis of the data indicated that the majority of the School 1 teachers perceived the dominant principal leadership style to be S2: Selling (High Task/ High Relationship). School 2 teachers perceived the dominant principal leadership style to be S4: Delegating (Low Task/ Low Relationship). School 3 teachers perceived the principal's leadership style as S1: Telling (High Task/ High Relationship).
Thirteen percent of the teachers perceived themselves in the high stress range (109-180). Sixty-five percent of the teachers perceived themselves in the moderately stressed range (73-108). Twenty-two percent of the teachers perceived themselves in the low range of stress (36-72).
Five of the nine WSPT categories of teacher stress were found significantly related to the teachers' perceptions of the principals' leadership style. The categories of Time Management, Intrapersonal Relations, Physical Symptoms of Stress, Psychological/Emotional Symptoms and Stress Management had higher stress levels than Schools 2 and 3. The Overall WSPT score showed School 1 with the S2 perceived leadership style, had significantly lower levels of teacher stress than Schools 2 and 3.
Teacher stress is a multifaceted problem and a principal leadership style is one contributing factor. The results of this study indicated the leadership style that balances task and relationship orientation showed lower levels of teacher stress.
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