Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fostering Resilience in Beginning Special Education Teachers
by Belknap, Bridget M., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2012, 184; 3524044
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study identified perceptions of risk and resilience in four different teaching roles of first-year, secondary special education teachers in three school districts in a large metropolitan area.

The study sample consisted of nine women in their first year of teaching who were also completing the requirements of a master's degree in teaching. They were asked to participate in semi-structured interviews using the Self-in-Relationships protocol. Participants chose three teaching roles that applied to them, selecting between inclusion teaching, self-contained teaching, case management, and an additional "other" role (e.g., coach, mentor, or tutor). They were asked to identify and to positively or negatively rank six "feeling" words they experienced in these roles. Participants then placed these feeling words on a diagram according to whether they felt the word was most, less, or least important to their identity as a teacher. Participants later viewed the resulting portrait and made observations about their teaching experiences overall. ATLAS.ti was used to manage and code data.

The study's results indicated that participants felt the most positive in an "other" role (83.87% positive responses) or a self-contained role (81.82% positive responses) and less positive in the inclusion role (63.16% positive responses) and case management role (41.07% positive responses). When participants felt supported and perceived that they were making a difference, they felt the most resilient. When participants felt isolated and underprepared, they felt the least resilient.

These findings highlight a need for support systems for new special education teachers—either in the form of formal induction or informal teams or mentors—and for professional development for all teachers about special education and best practices in inclusion. There is also a clear need for more direct instruction at the university and school levels about how to case manage.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Taymans, Juliana
Commitee: Bello, Denise, Wright, Travis
School: The George Washington University
Department: Special Education
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Special education, Teacher education, Secondary education
Keywords: Beginning teachers, Ecological model, Resilience, Risk and resilience, Self-in-relationships, Special education, Teacher resilience
Publication Number: 3524044
ISBN: 978-1-267-58056-6
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