Exploring the resilience of teachers faced with learners’ challenging behaviour in the classroom

Cornelissen, Timothy Paul (2016-12)

Thesis (MEdPsych) --Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : In 1994, South Africa made the shift towards a democratic dispensation characterized by equality and social justice. In order to prevent democracy from being an empty ideal, mainstream as well as special schools in the South African education system had to go through a process of restructuring and transformation in order to create an inclusive school environment conducive to the learning and development of all learners. This brought about increased responsibilities for teachers. However, research indicates that many teachers were not prepared or equipped to successfully manage the transformation of schools and classrooms to accommodate all learners in an inclusive, equitable and quality education system. This created numerous challenges which contributed to teachers’ stress and attrition. One of the most prominent difficulties was an inability to cope successfully with challenging learner behaviour. This seems to have had a detrimental effect on the teachers’ resilience. The inability to cope with challenges presented by the diverse learner population, accompanied by the gradual decline in their resilience, contributed to an unrewarding classroom ethos. Following Ungar’s socioecological perspective on resilience, which informed the theoretical framework of this study, I viewed resilience as being influenced by the reciprocal interaction between the individual and the environment. This qualitative case study, informed by an interpretivist paradigm, was designed to explore teachers’ lived experiences and the various factors impacting upon their resilience. It also aimed to offer a deeper understanding of how resilience influences the ability of teachers to manage challenging learner behaviour. To address these issues, a special school (school of skills) in the Western Cape Province was chosen as the case for the study. Three teachers from the academic sector and three from the skills sector formed part of this case. Semi-structured individual interviews, non-participant observation, and a semi-structured focus group interview were used to gather and triangulate data. Four themes emerged from the data: risk factors, internal stressors, protective factors, and internal strengths. The findings indicated that risk factors were dominating the available protective factors present in the lives of the participating teachers, making the attainment of resilience a complicated task. Nevertheless, the study also showed that increased resilience enhances the management of challenging learner behaviour and simultaneously enhances well-being, motivation and self-confidence. The importance of gaining sufficient knowledge about learners’ contexts, their challenges and how to apply various techniques to meet their needs, was highlighted.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : In 1994 is ‘n demokratiese bedeling, gekenmerk deur gelykheid en sosiale geregtigheid, in Suid-Afrika ingelei. Ten einde te voorkom dat demokrasie slegs ‘n leë ideaal bly, moes beide hoofstroom- en spesiale skole in Suid-Afrika ‘n proses van restrukturering en transformasie deurgaan om ‘n inklusiewe skoolomgewing bevorderlik vir die leer en ontwikkeling van alle leerders te verseker. Hierdie proses het tot ‘n toename in die verantwoordelikhede van onderwysers gelei. Navorsing toon egter dat baie onderwysers nie gereed of bekwaam was om die transformasie van skole en klaskamers suksesvol te bestuur ten einde alle leerders binne ‘n inklusiewe, regverdige en kwaliteit-onderwyssisteem te akkommodeer nie. Dit het verskeie uitdagings geskep wat tot verhoogde stresvlakke en uitputting by onderwysers bygedra het. Een van die opvallendste uitdagings van onderwysers was die hantering van uitdagende leerdergedrag wat tot verlaagde veerkragtigheid gelei het. Die onvermoë van onderwysers om die uitdagings wat met ‘n diverse leerdergemeenskap verband hou te hanteer, asook ‘n geleidelike afname in hulle veerkragtigheid het tot ‘n negatiewe klaskamerkultuur bygedra. Ungar se sosio-ekologiese perspektief wat veerkragtigheid sien as beïnvloed deur die wedersydse interaksie tussen die individu en sy of haar omgewing het hierdie studie onderlê. Hierdie kwalitatiewe gevallestudie, ingebed in die interpretatiewe paradigma, is ontwerp om onderwysers se geleefde ervarings rakende die onderskeie faktore wat ‘n invloed op hulle veerkragtigheid het, te ondersoek. ‘n Verdere doelwit was om meer insig te verwerf in hoe veerkragtigheid die vermoë van onderwysers om uitdagende leerdergedrag te hanteer beïnvloed. Om hierdie aangeleenthede aan te spreek is ‘n spesiale skool (vaardigheidskool) in die Wes-Kaapprovinsie as geval vir hierdie studie gekies. Drie onderwysers van die akademiese en drie onderwysers van die vaardigheidsektor het aan die studie deelgeneem. Semi-gestruktureerde individuele onderhoude, nie-deelnemende observasie en ‘n semi-gestruktureerde fokusgroeponderhoud is as metodes ingespan om data in te samel en te trianguleer. Vier temas kon vanuit die data geïdentifiseer word. Die bevindings het aangedui dat risikofaktore die beskikbare beskermingsfaktore in die lewens van die deelnemende onderwysers oorheers wat die verwerwing van veerkragtigheid gekompliseer het. Bo en behalwe dit het die studie ook aangetoon dat verhoogde veerkragtigheid die hantering van uitdagende leerdergedrag asook welwees, motivering en selfvertroue bevorder. Die belang daarvan om voldoende kennis van die leerder se konteks en uitdagings te verkry en hoe om verskeie tegnieke te gebruik om in hulle behoeftes te voorsien, is uitgelig.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100155
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