Date of Award

5-4-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Anthony Lemieux

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristen Varjas

Third Advisor

Dr. Jaye Atkinson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Patricia Davis

Abstract

This study was designed to investigate the relationship between teachers’ childhood bullying experiences and their responses to bullying in the classroom. The research explored teachers’ childhood bullying victimization experiences, the coping behaviors they used during those experiences, and the ways in which they responded and reacted to bullying when they encountered it within the context of their daily teaching responsibilities. A qualitative approach grounded in the theory of transcendental phenomenology (Moustakas, 1994) was used to make meaning of specific experiences of the teachers. Each participant from the initial sample (N = 21) completed the first of a three-interview series (Seidman, 2013), which generated demographic data and childhood bullying experiences from each participant. The sample was then narrowed (N = 8) to seven females and one male, ranging in age from 33 to 50 for the second and third in-depth interviews. Data were analyzed using the Modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Method of Analysis of Phenomenological Data (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994). Results showed that the childhood coping ways of some teachers were related to their adulthood ways of coping with the long-term residual effects of their childhood bullying experiences. Some participants-as-children and participants-as-adults similarly used a problem-focused approach to cope with their bullying experiences. Furthermore, those childhood and adulthood coping ways were associated with the ways in which participants responded to classroom bullying situations. They reported developing innovative ways to provide students with emotion-focused coping strategies through modeling and teaching communication skills as indirect response methods. Additionally, participants’ childhood victimization experiences triggered emotional responses (feelings of anger, sadness and frustration) during the bullying of students, which led to challenges with responding constructively to student victims and bullying in the classroom, and overlooking bullying types they had not experienced firsthand. The results of this study support a need for more resources specifically aimed at educators that encourage them to examine the complex relationships among their childhood bullying experiences, the long-term effects of those experiences, and their adult responses to bullying in the classroom context.

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