“Their behaviour is a lot more extreme but I quite like the challenge” The experiences of a special education teacher
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Special education is renowned for being one of the most difficult yet rewarding sectors to work in education, nevertheless teachers experience in this field remains marginalised in current literature. Teachers have a large impact on child development, with this suggested to be of even larger importance for children with special educational needs (SEN). Teacher pupil relationships have important implications on the behaviour of SEN children and their development. The children’s behaviour is often unpredictable and can cause emotional exhaustion for teachers, despite this the experience of special education teachers is frequently being overlooked by empirical research. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate the experiences of teaching children with SEN, this looked at teachers who worked in an SEN school. The present study focuses on factors which include looking at the relationships and how they are built, the support they had from their workplace and the rewards and challenges they face. In doing so five special education teachers between the ages of 25-60 took part in semi structured interviews. A thematic analysis of the interviews revealed five core themes; social/emotional support to pupil, teacher pupil relationship is vital, violence, interests and supported in the workplace. Some of the current finding became incongruent with the current literature beliefs, such as that special education teachers do not feel supported by their workplace. However, some supported the finding of current research such as the importance of a good relationship. Directions for future research are also discussed.
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