Exploring the Experience of Teachers Working with Exceptional Learners
Regular classroom teachers, who often report that they lack adequate training and resources, increasingly find themselves supporting students with special education needs (Connelly & Graham, 2009). Teachers working in challenging environments can thrive in their role and continue to experience professional growth and passion about their work with students with exceptionalities (Perry, Brenner, Collie, & Hofer, 2015). Thriving is one framework of psychological wellness that can provide insight into the experiences of teachers working with exceptional learners (Spreitzer & Porath, 2014). Chronic stress from occupational demands such as heavy workload and insufficient resources can negatively affect the wellbeing of teachers and lead to poor mental health (Desrumaux et al., 2015). Burnout and compassion fatigue are two constructs of poor mental health that can inform our understanding of teachers’ social and emotional experiences. The purpose of this study was to explore the social and emotional experiences of teachers working with exceptional learners in regular classrooms. The objective of this study was to describe the elements within teachers’ professional roles that they report contribute to their social and emotional experiences understood through the lenses of thriving, burnout, and compassion fatigue. Interviews were conducted with five teachers: one full-time in-service teacher and four teachers who are pursuing graduate studies in education. The theme of thriving emerged as a significant component of the interview with all five participants. All five participants described experiences of vitality and learning as essential to their workplace satisfaction and overall thriving. Although the data from this study did not suggest that participants were experiencing burnout or compassion fatigue, elements of the two constructs did emerge as relevant to the social-emotional experiences of the teachers.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15296
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