8 - Turning Our Schools into a Healthier Workplace: Bridging Between Professional Self-Efficacy and Professional Demands  pp. 166-175

By Isaac A. Friedman

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Reports from many Western countries indicate that teachers claim to suffer from problem-laden schools; many are seriously considering giving up teaching as a career, and a substantial proportion actually do so every year. School principals too are experiencing difficulties in their schools and are considering leaving their position and the profession. For teachers and principals, then, teaching is a stressful occupation, and since unmediated stress may lead to burnout, schools are not a very healthy place to work. Burnout, commonly perceived as a sense of emotional exhaustion, lack of accomplishment, and a negative attitude toward service recipients, may manifest in cynicism and skepticism, withdrawal, and eventually, by the professional's quitting the job or the profession (Farber, 1991a; Friedman, 1993).

Ideally, the detection of the sources of stress and the antecedents of burnout should be grounded in related theories. Because the concept of burnout has evolved empirically rather than theoretically (Maslach, Chapter 12), a theory of burnout is not to be found in the literature, although several models of burnout have been formulated and tested.

Cherniss (1993) suggested that professional self-efficacy, as defined by Bandura (1989), can play an important role in explaining the etiology and amelioration of burnout. He argued that in applying the term “self-efficacy,” we need to recognize that it is professional self-efficacy (the professional's beliefs in his or her abilities to perform in professional work roles) that is most relevant and important. He suggested that professional self-efficacy includes three different domains of professional role performance.

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