“Who minds the minders”: a mixed methods examination of Irish primary school teachers’ experiences of and perspectives on supporting pupils exposed
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Background Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have the capacity to influence neurobiological processes, impacting upon children’s cognitive, social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing, which can impede their ability to function appropriately in the school environment. Accordingly, school constitutes an important microsystem in a child’s life, with the interactions a child experiences having the potential to mitigate, or conversely exacerbate, the impact of adversity. ACEs therefore confront schools, endowing teachers with considerable responsibility. Aims This study aimed to elucidate how the field of Educational and Child Psychology can assist teachers to optimally support their pupils who have experienced adversity. Based on previous research, it is possible that the consequences of ACEs are present in Irish classrooms on a daily basis. Resultantly, attention and assistance are required, and Educational Psychologists (EPs) are especially well suited for such support. However, in order for EPs to fulfil this need, an exploration of teachers’ experiences of and perspectives on this matter is warranted. Sample The sample comprised qualified primary school teachers practising in Ireland. A total of 492 participants partook in the online questionnaire within Phase One. A subsample of eight participants from Phase One partook in the Phase Two interviews. Method An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design was adopted, with two distinct yet interactive phases occurring. Quantitative data was collected in Phase One using an online questionnaire exploring multiple dimensions. The subsequent qualitative phase of the study was designed so that it followed on from the results of the quantitative phase, explaining and further expanding upon the findings. Results Path analysis indicated the potential presence of a conceptual model, comprising teachers’ understanding of behaviours related to ACEs, teachers’ self-efficacy in supporting ii pupils exposed to ACEs, and teachers’ reactions to working with pupils experiencing adversity. Hybrid thematic analysis elaborated upon the interrelationships between these variables. Conclusions The implications of the findings pertaining to the field of Educational and Child Psychology are presented, with recommendations for policy, practice and research delineated.
Secondary traumatic stress
Mixed methods research