04 SES 02 A, Teacher Behaviour
It has been well-documented that children’s social functioning constitutes a crucial aspect of their development, with implications for school and later life adjustment (Brolyn, & Loyd, 2004; Gresham, Sugai, & Horner, 2001). Considering that social competence has been associated with academic, vocational and long-term life success is not altogether surprising that a large body of research has focused on the difficulties that students with Special Educational Needs (SENs) encounter in the social domain. Such difficulties may be, among others, related to: establishing and maintaining social relationships with peers (Sheepstra, Nakken, & Pijl, 1999), demonstrating prosocial behaviours (Lord, & Magil-Evans, 1995), following rules and adhering to discipline standards in the classroom (Voltz, Brazil, & Ford, 2001), and self-regulating emotions and behaviour (Wight, & Chapparo, 2008). The potential importance of the social skills outlined above across several aspects of students’ with SENs adjustment has contributed to the advocacy of educational interventions targeting social development as a means of promoting their successful inclusion (Moncy, Pijl, & Zandberg, 2004). Hence, research on inclusive education, should investigate teachers’ preparation and readiness to address the social needs and difficulties of their students and implement effective interventions to target social objectives (Pavri, & Hegwer-DiVita, 2006; Pavri, 2004).
Ascertaining special teachers’ views is considered to be a necessary prerequisite for supporting inclusive provision as their insights and experiences may inform intervention practices and potentially contribute to improvements in the field (Pavri & Hegwer-Divita, 2006; Pavri & Monda-Amaya, 2001). It has been, for example, well-documented that special educators in collaboration with their mainstream counterparts play an important role in developing a supportive social climate in the classroom that fosters positive interactions among peers, promotes mutual acceptance and healthy rapport which in turn facilitate children’s social and emotional growth. Having a plethora of opportunities to observe students’ social behavior in a variety of situations, teachers are considered to be key informants in identifying critical components of social competence that may be incorporated in educational programs and activities targeting children’s social skills development. At the same time, they are among those professionals who are actively involved in addressing individual needs in the social domain that may inform intervention tasks and promoting evidence-based responses to children with SENs.
In the light of the above, the study aims to explore Greek special education teachers’ readiness to adequately address their students’ social needs and investigate the kind of intervention strategies they employ for responding to their social skills difficulties. The collected data provide answers to the following research questions:
- Whether Greek students’ with SENs social skills difficulties are being truly addressed by their teachers.
- What kind of intervention strategies Greek special teachers employ for responding to their students’ social needs and difficulties.
- Which are the perceived limitations underpinning Greek primary education special teachers’ interventions and their suggestions for enhancing their effectiveness.
Brolin, D. E., & Loyd, R. J. (2004). Career development and transition services- a functional life skills approach (4th ed.). New Jersey, NJ: Pearson. Gresham, F., Sugai, G., & Horner, R. (2001). Interpreting outcomes of social skills training for students with high-incidence disabilities. Exceptional children, 67(3), 331-34. Lord, C., & Magill-Evans, J. (1995). Peer interactions of autistic children and adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 611-626. Monchy, M., Pijl, S. J., & Zandberg, T. (2004). Discrepancies in judging social inclusion and bullying of pupils with behaviour problems. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 19, 317-330. Pavri, S. (2004). General and special education teachers’ preparation needs in providing social support: a needs assessment. Teacher Education and Special Education, 27(4), 77-87. Pavri, S., & Hegwer-DiVita, M. (2006). Meeting the social and emotional needs of students with disabilities: the special educators’ perspective. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 22, 139-153. Pavri, S., & Monda-Amaya, L. (2001). Social support in inclusive schools: students and teacher perspectives. Exceptional Children, 67(3), 391-411. Scheepstra, A. J. M., Nakken, H., & Pijl, S. J. (1999). Contacts with classmates: the social position of pupils with Down’s syndrome in Dutch mainstream education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 14(3), 212-220. Voltz, D., Brazil, N., & Ford, A. (2001). What matters most in inclusive education: A practical guide for moving forward. Intervention in School and Clinic, 37(1), 23-30. Wight, M., & Chapparo, C. (2008). Social competence and learning difficulties: Teacher perceptions. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 55, 256-265.
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