School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Michelle B. Goodwin


Childhood Trauma, Disruptive Behaviors, Learning Interference, Teacher Goals


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Student Counseling and Personnel Services | Teacher Education and Professional Development


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to understand the impact of childhood trauma upon curricular goals for elementary school teachers in the northeastern United States. A qualitative effort was employed in an effort to examine the lived experiences of teachers working with students affected by trauma. Data were collected from interviews with six female elementary school teachers (mean experience: 18.3 years) working within what might be characterized as a small urban district, with the interview transcripts analyzed according to processes provided by Moustakas (1994). All of those interviewed were able to identify numerous students within their classrooms (past and present) who had experienced a trauma, from sexual victimization to abandonment, and noted that these experiences often manifest themselves in behaviors that are disruptive to the delivery of instruction. Teachers reported on great lengths in attempting to support and manage students struggling in the aftermath of trauma; however, most of these efforts are characterized as trial-and-error with none of the participants able to identify having received any formal training on how to best support these students. Teachers reported an increasing amount of aggression among these students over time, with the issue becoming a growing concern in recent years due to a corresponding escalation in disruptive behaviors that interrupt or cease instruction.