From to three stages including ‘before teaching hour’, ‘while-teaching

From the foregoing, anxiety
can thus be explained as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension,
worried thoughts and physical changes which can affect performance. Lang (1968) classified the symptoms of
anxiety into a system of three-responses: verbal-subjective, overt motor acts,
and somato-visceral activity. In this system, the symptoms of anxiety include
worry, avoidance, and muscle tension. The American
National Association of School Psychologists (2004) also points out that
anxiety affects people’s feelings, body response, behaviors, and thoughts.
According to the Scottish Department of Clinical Psychology (2005),
an anxious person experiences physical feelings and worrying thoughts which
make it hard to do even simple tasks.
Eyesenck (cited in Gelman, 2004) contends that anxiety comprises two
distinct components: worry and emotionality. According to her, worry is the
cognitive aspect of anxiety whiles emotionality relates to the physiological
aspect. She adds that these two components of anxiety create a feeling of
tension and nervousness among student-teachers. This view is supported by the
American National Association of School Psychologists who posits that the
central characteristic of anxiety is worry, that is, an excessive concern about
situations with uncertain outcomes. Sammephet
& Wanphet (2013) observe that teachers’ anxiety is a major concern not
only to experienced teachers but also to student-teachers. They add that the
negative impact of anxiety always has a strong influence on the teaching
performance of student-teachers particularly in the first encounter with
students in the History classroom.

 

Stress among prospective
teachers

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Stress experienced by
prospective teachers has attracted an increasing amount of attention over the
past ten years or so.

According to Ngidi & Sibaya (2003), findings of
empirical studies indicate that a high level of anxiety among student-teachers
may be tied to various negative consequences such as class control problems and
classroom disruptions. McKeachie (cited
in Sammephet & Wanphet, 2013)
divides student-teachers’ anxieties into to three stages including ‘before
teaching hour’, ‘while-teaching hour’, and ‘after teaching hour’. During the
‘before teaching hour’, the student-teacher is worried about planning lessons
or preparing materials for a successful lesson. During the ‘while-teaching
hour’, teachers are worried about unexpected situations, among which are the
teachers’ anxieties over interaction with students, over time management, over
classroom management as well as over the presence of a supervisor. In the
‘after-teaching hour’, the anxieties still remain because the teachers are
worried about feedback from their supervisors especially if the feedback is
unfavorable. MacDonald (cited in Wagenaar, 2005) identified the
following factors as the main reasons that make student teachers feel constant
pressure: lack of role clarification, not knowing the expectations of the host
teacher, feeling the need to fit into existing practices and teaching styles,
the lack of time to talk to the host teacher as well as the actual evaluation
procedure. Bhargava (2009) also
cited six anxiety inducing areas for student teachers during teaching practice.
These are lesson planning, classroom management, heavy workload, time table of
the school, evaluation by a supervisor, and less preparatory time before
teaching practice. Turan (2011)
revealed that student-teachers are anxious about factors such as evaluation,
classroom management, pedagogy and staff relations and that female
student-teacher are more anxious compared to their male counterparts in the
teaching practicum. He again found inconsistencies in the way student teachers
are assessed, varying expectations of supervisors related to their performance
in class, and the poor quality of feedback given to student-teachers by their
mentors and supervisors as other areas of anxiety for student-teachers.

The following paragraphs of
the literature dwells on three major anxiety inducing areas which are heavy
workload, classroom management, and supervision.

1) Heavy workload

Every student teacher is
expected meet the standard required of a professional teacher. As such they
engaged in all forms of activities, be they academic or non-academic that are
part of the school system. According to Kyriacou
& Stephens (1999), coping
with the general workload of being a teacher tend to scare many
student-teachers. They opine that despite the fact that student-teachers
normally have a much reduced timetable, they are faced with having to undertake
many tasks as well as teaching topics for the first time. This means that the
time they need to devote to planning and preparation, finding and developing
appropriate teaching materials, mastering the subject matter, and conducting
the necessary assessment of pupils’ progress, including marking any written
work, all takes much longer than it would for an experienced teacher (Kyriacou & Stephens 1999). Ghanaguru,
Nair, & Yong (2013) identify lesson planning as a problematic and
anxiety inducing area especially for student teachers. Bharvaga (2009) explains that lesson planning induces anxiety
when what is planned fail to match up with what actually transpires in the
classroom and student teachers have to mentally re-adjust or replan their
written lesson plan. According to her, some student-teachers report of
sleepless nights during teaching practice, as they have to prepare lesson plans
and teaching aids for a number of periods the next day. This is enough to make
student-teachers nervous. Turan’s (2011) study also found that planning,
preparation, teaching, testing and doing some office work was agreed upon by
80% of student-teachers as an important source of anxiety. Again it was found
that some supervisors preferred simple lesson plans whiles others expected a
detailed lesson plan. Detailed lesson plans was found to be boring and
stressful to the student-teachers as they had to rehearse the plan many times
and implement it in the classroom, thus, adding up to their anxiety. Ankuma (2007) also points out that
the anxiety level of student-teachers are increased by the demand to spare time
for and be involved in all co-curricular activities of the school as well as
write their projects. In a study on student-teachers’ concerns during teaching
practice, Kyriacou & Stephens (1999)
reported that student-teachers indicated a sense of tiredness and, in some
cases, sheer exhaustion. Also, most of them imagined how they would cope with a
full-time teaching post on taking up a first appointment. Similarly, Tomlinson (1995) pointed to how the
sheer intensity of the experience of being a student teacher, based on the
physical demands it makes and the high level of uncertainty they face, can lead
to high levels of stress. Capel (1997)
in a study on changes in practicum students’ anxieties and concerns after their
first and second teaching practices also pointed out that student-teachers
complain of too many instructional duties making them feel under pressure most
of the time. These studies indicate how heavy workload during teaching practice
induces stress and anxiety in student-teachers, not excepting those in the
field of History

2) Classroom Management

Effective classroom
management is defined by Chamundeswari
(2013) as a climate emphasizing and conducive to proper learning, good
behavior and positive inter-personal relationships. She adds that classroom
management is a major area of concern for teachers as ineffective management
leads to serious conditions of indiscipline causing damage to the conductive
climate for learning. Kyriacou &
Stephens (1999) support this view by noting that a major area of concern
for practice teachers is maintaining good discipline in the classroom and
dealing successfully with pupils who misbehave. They reported in their study
that the student-teachers referred to misdemeanors such as noisy behavior in
class, cheekiness in corridors, talking when the teacher is talking as
management issues that caused them exhaustion. Preece (cited in Kyriacou & Stephens, 1999) reported that
discipline problems often led to high levels of anxiety in student-teachers. He
also found that in some cases, a high level of anxiety by students during
teaching practice actually appeared to be a cause of discipline problems.
Another study by Tuli (2006) showed
that student misbehavior in school served as a de-motivative factor that
discouraged student-teachers to accomplish their task effectively. Mapfumo, Chitsiko, & Chireshe (2012) studied
teaching practice generated stressors among student-teachers in Zimbabwe and
reported that the introduction of the mentees as ‘student-teachers’ posed
management problem in their classrooms. According to the report, the fact that
they (mentees) were introduced to the learners as student-teachers demoralised
the student-teachers and also gave learners in the school the courage to
undermine the authority of the student-teachers in and outside the classroom.
The respondents thus attributed difficulty in managing classrooms to difficult
learners who disrespected especially the female student teachers. Sammephet & Wanphet (2013) adds
that the reason for the anxiety in managing student behavior is the
unfamiliarity with secondary school students as student-teachers had
microteaching experience with university students. Also, according to a study
by Turan (2011), 72% of the respondents
reported that having lack of knowledge about the pupils they worked with and
lack of experience as to how to cope with various problems regarding classroom
management created anxiety.

In her study, Bhargava (2009)
also found that in some of the schools visited by student-teachers, the impish
behaviour of the children caused disturbance in the class and impeded effective
classroom management. She attributed classroom management problems to
student-teachers inability to identify with the children, or the fact that the
topic to be taught by them was already covered in the class by the regular
teacher. Goh & Matthews (2011)
also noted that participants reported that classroom management was their most
worrisome issue. The foregoing classroom management scenarios add up to the
tensions and anxieties the History student-teacher goes through during teaching
practice.