Special Education Teacher Resilience: A Phenomenological Study of Factors Associated with Retention and Resilience of Highly Resilient Special Educators

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Downing, Brienne (2017)
  • Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
  • Subject: Educational leadership | Attrition | Special Education | Administrative Support | Resiliency | Satisfaction | Retention
    acm: ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION

Abstract Of The DissertationSpecial Education Teacher Resilience: A Phenomenological Study of Factors Associated with Retention and Resilience of Highly Resilient Special EducatorsbyBrienne DowningDoctor of Education in Educational LeadershipUniversity of California, San Diego, 2017California State University, San Marcos, 2017Professor Jacqueline Thousand, ChairSpecial education teachers are in high demand and greatly needed to meet the needs of the growing population of students qualified for special education services under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004. The increasing attrition rates of special education teachers are a social justice issue that needs attention. The demands and pressures that special education teachers face need to be closely examined and addressed to ensure equal access to education for the population of students receiving special education services. The literature review analyzes and discusses the need to identify the severity and impact of special education teacher attrition rates and the use of a resilience construct to help increase the retention of teachers. This phenomenological research study examines the research and findings of implemented and needed interventions to help mitigate the issue. This study examines a conceptual framework of special education teacher resiliency by look at four major areas: (1) why special education teachers enter the field, (2) non-workplace contexts, (3) workplace contexts (e.g. collegial support, administrative support, other supports), and (4) personal resiliency attributes. This study posits these four elements influence teacher resiliency and satisfaction/intention to stay or leave the field of special education. A resilience scale to pre-screen participants and a semi-structured interview was employed to gather data. Participants guided the findings of this study and inform educational leaders and policy makers on special education teacher resiliency factors that promote retention. These findings included being able to experience and learn of student growth and accomplishments, having a personal connection to special education and individuals with disabilities, a sense of fulfillment, and relationships with parents, colleagues, and students; balance and boundaries participants sought personal self-care through individual exercise and travel, and social networking through team exercise and sports, community service and involvement, and connecting with family and friends; administrative support through emotional, instrumental, appraisal, and informational supports; staying student centered and focused upon student potential, the verbal and physical actions of administrators, and collegial relationships; and having a sense of purpose.Keywords: Special education, resiliency, attrition, retention, administrative support, satisfaction
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