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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Narratives of teacher-student relationships : how itinerant teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing support their students’ social and emotional development Norman, Nancy Alice


Positive teacher-student relationships promote healthy school experiences and have been shown to play an important role in creating positive social and academic outcomes for students, including students with special learning needs (e.g., Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Most deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students are educated in inclusive school environments alongside their hearing peers, and likely receive additional support from an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing throughout their school years (kindergarten to grade 12). However, very little is known about the significance of this unique teacher-student relationship in terms of social and emotional support, nor in what ways this relationship may help or hinder social inclusion at school. To address the paucity of research in this area, I used a narrative inquiry and multiple case study design to examine the characteristics of the itinerant teacher-DHH student relationship. Each participant (four itinerant teachers and four DHH students) participated in two separate individual interviews and was asked to reflect upon their relationship working with DHH students or itinerant teachers, as appropriate. The first interview was semi-structured and captured the participants’ perspectives of their itinerant teacher-DHH student relationships generally. The second interview focused on the meaning and significance of the itinerant teacher-student relationship. Narrative stories for each participant were written from the interview data and analyzed using a constant comparison, thematic content analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Six prominent themes emerged from the itinerant teacher narrative stores: identity development (of students), attachment, safe space, connector, advisor, and itinerant teacher identity. Five prominent themes emerged from the DHH student narrative stories: identity development (of students), attachment, safe space, connector, and advisor. This study contributes to the field of Deaf Education in terms of identifying possible important aspects of the itinerant teacher-student relationship from both the teachers’ and the students’ perspectives. In addition, the findings shed light on potential interpersonal mechanisms that may be involved in creating successful school experiences for DHH students who are educated in inclusive school environments.

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