Teachers’ experiences in dealing with oppositional and defiant learners in special needs classrooms.
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This study explored special needs teachers’ experiences in dealing with oppositional and defiant learners in their classrooms. The study was guided by the following three research questions: (1) What are teachers’ in special needs schools experiences with oppositional and defiant behaviour? (2) What methods do these teachers find effective or ineffective in dealing with learners with oppositional and defiant behaviour? (3) What are these teachers’ views on the relevance and adequacy of their training in dealing with oppositional and defiant behaviour? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of nine special needs teachers from three special needs schools in Pietermaritzburg. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. The research findings suggested that dealing with oppositional and defiant learners was a frustrating and demotivating experience for the teachers. The teachers described both their successful and unsuccessful experiences in dealing with these learners. The adequacy and effectiveness of the teachers’ training was also described as ineffective whereas their experiences in the classroom were described as invaluable in dealing with these learners. Suggestions for future improvements were also made by the teachers. Implications for future practice include more relevant training and workshops, the creation and implementation of a database or helpline, an improvement in the support services available to special needs teachers, the inclusion of mental health professionals in special needs schools and finally a re-examination of the current curriculum taught in special needs schools.