An exploration of teachers’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours when working with selectively mute children
Dean, Reem Olivia
BF | LC | LB1501
The purpose of the current research was to explore teachers’ experiences of working with selectively mute children in primary and nursery school settings. In particular, participants’ experiences were organised into the concepts, thoughts, feelings and behaviours and whether there were mediating factors which influenced the kind of experiences teachers had. The research also explored if these experiences changed and developed over time.\ud The design was a semi-structured interview technique. The sample consisted of 20 primary and nursery teachers in England and Wales who had previous (N= 9) and current experiences (N= 11) of working with a selectively mute child. The data were coded using Nvivo software and analysed using Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).\ud The data indicated that thoughts consisted of teachers’ causal attributions for the development of Selective Mutism, their expectations, their perceptions of the selectively mute child, their parents and siblings, and their perceptions of their professional role and that of the educational psychologist (EP). Frustration and anxiety were the most frequently cited feelings and therefore it may be argued that working with a selectively mute child is a stressful experience when teachers are uncertain of the best course of action and when they feel unsupported. Teachers’ behaviours consisted of the strategies they used to communicate with the child and to enable the child to access the curriculum. Thoughts, feelings and behaviours changed and developed over time. Several factors were identified which served to mediate teachers’ experiences including levels of teacher-child attachment, levels of pupil and parental engagement, the context and involvement from outside agencies.
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