The Stress Response Toolkit for Teachers: An Exploration of How Professional Boundaries and Social-Emotional Skills Alleviate Occupational Stress

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Obojski, Kara
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The teaching force is a dynamic, yet complex environment that requires an adept navigation through many sub-systems including legal and professional teacher standards, employer-employee contracts, union membership, and relationship maintenance between colleagues, administration, parents, and students. If left unmanaged, stress can manifest and exacerbate medical conditions, affect decision making and the development of maladaptive behaviors, affect secure relationship attachments and the academic achievement of students, and potentially lead to burn out (Carrington, 2023; Markin, 2023; McCarthy, 2019; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2015). The goal of this capstone is to achieve an understanding of the stress response and the ability to cope, followed by an exploration of the importance of social-emotional skills and professional boundaries for teachers and concludes with recommendations for building strategies in key areas such as realm of control, social connections, understanding the rights and responsibilities as a public-school educator, ethical decision making, and goal planning to enhance social-emotional regulation and self-awareness to better appraise available resources to manage the stress response. For this capstone, exploring strategies within social-emotional learning and professional boundaries will be approached with an attachment theory lens. Secure attachments with others help individuals to learn and develop integral skills of communicating, listening, decision-making, and emotional regulating (Siegel & Bryson, 2011). These same principles of connection, attachment, safety, and belonging can be applied to what a teacher needs in their working environment to regulate as well as what their students need in the teacher-student relationship to learn.
stress , occupational stress , professional boundaries , social-emotional strategies , teachers , regulation , stress cycle , stress response , boundaries , coping