Managing Role Demands and Stress; Educators Speak

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. R Dante G. Juanta, OAM

(A lecture presented at a special Convocation at Philippine Normal University, Manila, sponsored by the College of Graduate Studies, May 2003.)

EDUCATIONAL leaders including school principals, heads of departments, deans of colleges, university presidents, and the like are subject to mounting pressures and role demands from everywhere. Schools in particular find themselves not only educating but also caring for the additional needs of every child who enters school: feeding, counselling, providing health care for the body and mind, and they do this before and after school, too. Coupled with the reform movement-standards, assessment, and accountability, this situation has dramatically changed school leadership. (Tirozzi, 2201)

Further to this, school leaders are expected to fulfill, behave and perform in a manner that befits their roles. While some people hold their appropriate expectations for the behavior of the office bearers, the heads of institutions will also hold their own personal view of what is appropriate. How to run their school, their department, the college, the university? How to conduct meetings? How to dress? How to conduct oneself on social occasions? So, where a concept of appropriate behavior held by one person in an interaction conflicts with the concept held by a role incumbent, role pressure is bound to arise and that takes a toll on the office bearer.

A conceptual framework of a school as a social system may help to illustrate the relationship between role expectation and a persons behavior in that role. The concept social system applies to aggregates of human relationships. So, the school is viewed structurally, functionally, and operationally.

Structurally, there are super-ordinate-subordinate relationships that are seen in the light of authority concept, though the superordinate position may not be always dominant, nor the subordinate position be submissive. Functionally, there are the allocation and integrating roles and facilities to achieve the goals of the system, such as, the assignment of statuses, procedures and the evaluation of performance. Operationally, the administrative process involves person-to-person interaction. Each member perceives and organizes the relationship in terms of his needs, skills, goals and past experiences.

Conceptually, a social system involves two classes of interactive phenomena: the institutional and the personal dimensions. The institutions are agencies where certain roles and expectations when carried out will fulfill the goals of the system.

In the school, the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), the principal, the teachers, the pupils, the office and grounds personnel are institutions for the maintenance and furtherance of the social system. The expectations define what each role incumbent should not do in various circumstances while in the particular role in the school social system.

The individuals, on the other hand, are the human agents who carry out institutional functions. In one sense, they are actors instead of persons. But they have certain personalities and need dispositions and their observed interactions comprise social behaviors. Thus, each individual stamps the role that she or he occupies with the unique style and mode of expressive behavior, as in attitude, drive and need.

When the expectations of the role and the need dispositions of the individual are congruent, there is no discrepancy between what the person wants and what the role requires. But where a discrepancy occurs, conflict is inevitable. Conflicts can be healthy for individuals and institutions, but, left unresolved, can engender pathological dysfunction in the social system.

The interaction is dynamic between the individual and the institution, between personality and the adopted role in a school social system! Where and how would most of the pressures come from? …