University of Sussex
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Teacher resilience and the perspectives of secondary school teachers on pupils' challenging behaviour

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:42 authored by Jane C. Oliver
This research is about the challenging behaviour of pupils in secondary schools and how this behaviour is perceived and experienced by their teachers. The impetus for the research came from my work as a teacher with pupils who had been excluded from school. The spur was the significant rise in permanent exclusions from maintained schools in England and Wales in the decade following the implementation of the 1988 Education Reform Act. The research began in 2000. It is a piece of small-scale educational research, which had a two stage research design. The perspective taken was phenomenological within a naturalistic paradigm. In the first stage of the research design questionnaires were distributed to all the teachers and teaching assistants in two secondary schools in an area of social deprivation in a suburb of London. These questionnaires were intended to elicit information about teacher perspectives regarding challenging behaviour. In stage two of the research design in-depth interviews were held with five teachers from one of the two schools. These teachers were interviewed up to six times each over a period of several months as I attempted to track their interactions and experiences with a pupil whom they had identified as having challenging behaviour. The data from the questionnaires revealed that a significant majority of the teacher respondents believed that incidences of challenging behaviour were increasing. The second stage of the research explored what these teachers meant by challenging behaviour and what challenging behaviour meant for them. The analysis of the data from these interviews revealed that for this group of teachers challenging behaviour predominantly meant disruption to their lessons. A key issue to emerge from the project was that of teacher resilience in relation to managing challenging behaviour. The main findings of the thesis explore issues around the relationships between teachers and pupils with challenging behaviour. A model is proposed which illustrates levels of persistence on the part of the teachers when they are engaged with pupils with challenging behaviour. The model explores differing responses from teachers when managing what they perceived as challenging behaviour. It illustrates how and whether they disengage with the process of actively trying to make the pupils conform to classroom expectations in order to achieve learning outcomes. The model illustrates the inter-relationship of characteristics of teacher resilience and demonstrates how resilience plays a part in determining whether teachers are able to manage disruptive behaviour in the classroom in order to achieve learning outcomes.


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