Teacher shortage is a major concern for educational institutions. One key psychological resource for teachers that may reduce teacher shortage (e.g., prevent burnout, improve wellbeing) is teacher adaptability (i.e., the capacity to adjust to situations of novelty and change). Indeed, teacher adaptability is known to be associated with positive functioning and wellbeing. However, little qualitative research has been conducted exploring how adaptability may be experienced by teachers. The present study set out to explore the unique perspective of a sample of teachers on their adaptability and its links with classroom management and wellbeing. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four primary school teachers and thematic analysis was adopted to interpret their experiences in greater depth. Four superordinate themes were identified: Experiences of adaptability: “teaching’s constantly adapting”; Learning to adapt: an active process; adaptability and organisational culture; and adaptability and teacher wellbeing: a cyclical relationship. The findings suggest that teachers may develop and improve their adaptability via engagement with reflective practices.


adaptability, classroom management, wellbeing, primary school teachers, qualitative, thematic analysis

Author Bio(s)

Robyn Davis has a degree in Psychology with Education and conducted this qualitative research during her studies. This research was inspired by a passion for optimising the educational experiences of children and their teachers as well as lived (yet anecdotal) experience of the importance of classroom management in relation to learning and psychological wellbeing. Please direct correspondence to robyn.davis.19@ucl.ac.uk

Andrew Holliman, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at UCL Institute of Education. His research interests include the psychology of education, teaching and learning in higher education, and the development of children’s literacy. Please direct correspondence to a.holliman@ucl.ac.uk

Michael John Burrows, Ph.D., is a lecturer in Psychology at Coventry University, with expertise in research within healthcare, gender and sexuality and qualitative research methodology. Please direct correspondence to ad0567@coventry.ac.uk

Daniel Waldeck, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Coventry University, with expertise in the domains of Applied Psychology and Research Methods. Please direct correspondence to ac8416@coventry.ac.uk

David Holliman, Ph.D., is Head of Collaborations and Business Development in the School of Education at the University of Buckingham, with expertise in education, international business, and strategy. Please direct correspondence to david.holliman@buckingham.ac.uk


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the primary school teachers who took part in this research.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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