SA Journal of Education, Vol 43, No 1 (2023)

Mainstream teachers’ lived experiences of adolescents with behavioural difficulties: An exploratory study

Puleng A. Masedi, Refilwe G. Pila-Nemutandani, Patricia S. Kolobe, Wandile F. Tsabedze


Globally, mainstream teachers have been experiencing intense challenges of behavioural difficulties by learners in schools. For decades, scholars have intensified the relational impact of behaviour with regard to academic progression. However, there is limited knowledge on the experiences and coping strategies of teachers regarding these challenges. Using an exploratory research approach in the study reported on here, we focused on the lived experiences (psychological well-being and coping strategies) of teachers of adolescents with behavioural difficulties. A phenomenological research design and qualitative approach to enquiry were used to conduct the study. Purposive and stratified sampling techniques were used to select 8 participants (3 female and 5 male teachers) for the study. Qualitative data were analysed thematically, and 2 major themes emerged: poor psychological well-being and inadequate coping strategies of teachers. Depressive symptoms reported by participants included the following: anhedonia, burnout, reduced job performance, and demotivation. These challenges primarily lead to negative mood regulation and maladaptive coping, such as displacement – a defence mechanism. Behavioural difficulties experienced by adolescents have a profound impact of intense stress and negative emotions, leading to poor psychological well-being of teachers. Thus, there is a need for the Department of Education to create structures, guidelines and support systems for schools on behavioural difficulties for the well-being of teachers.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Puleng A. Masedi -
Refilwe G. Pila-Nemutandani -
Patricia S. Kolobe –
Wandile F. Tsabedze -

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