The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

How Special-Education Homeroom Teachers Perceive the Attachment They Form with Their Pupils

Bella Gavish, Levinsky college of education (Israel)

Amos Fleischmann, Achva academic college (Israel)


Educating students with special needs is one of the central challenges facing the education system. The teachers of these students are very important in meeting this challenge. Special-education classes are still needed, mainly for pupils with significant disabilities (Bettini et al., 2019). One of the requirements of a teacher generally, and a special-education teacher particularly, is the establishment of a personal relationship with her pupils in view of the importance of the teacher–pupil connection in pupils’ advancement at large (Sointu et al., 2017)—and a fortiori for youngsters with SND (Sabol & Pianta, 2012). Insights into this connection may be drawn from two theories, one relating to the ethics of caring (Noddings, 2012) and the other to attachment (Bowlby, 1988). To the best of our knowledge, a proper understand of how special-education homeroom teachers perceive the meaning of their attachment with their pupils is still lacking. To gain insights about this relationship, it is necessary first to ask how special-education homeroom teachers themselves view the relationship and the process through which it is built. Our goal in this study, then, is to gain insights into the way these teachers see the meaning of their attachment with their pupils. In this qualitative study, thirty-nine female special-education teachers who teach in self-contained classrooms participate in in-depth semi-structured interviews. The interview results yield three topics: the role of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in teachers’ choice of this class placement, the bond with pupils with SEND and its importance for teachers’ self-perception of their profession, and teachers’ expectations going forward. The findings attest to a process of attachment-formation between the teacher and her pupils and indicate that the experience of being attached to the pupils strengthens teachers’ willingness to practice this profession and continue to fill this post. Teachers go to lengths to create this attachment, and by so doing they empower both themselves and their pupils.

Keywords Special education classroom, Exceptionalities, Qualitative, Teacher and child interaction

References: [1] Bettini, E., Wang, J., Cumming, M., Kimerling, J., Schutz, S. (2019). Special educators’ experiences of roles and responsibilities in self-contained classes for students with emotional/behavioral disorders. Remedial and Special Education, 40, 177–191.
[2] Bowlby, J. (1988). A Secure Base. Basic Books.
[3] Noddings, N. (2012). The caring relation in teaching. Oxford Review of Education, 38, 771–781.
[4] Sabol T. J. & Pianta, R. C. (2012). Recent trends in research on teacher-child relationships.” Attachment & Human Development, 14(, 213–231.
[5] Sointu, E. T., Savolainen, H., Lappalainen, K. & Lambert, M C. (2017). Longitudinal associations of student–teacher relationships and behavioural and emotional strengths on academic achievement. Educational Psychology, 37, 457–467.  


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