School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Michael David Patrick


Professional Development, Social and Emotional Learning, Impact, Relationships


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the experiences of teachers related to social and emotional learning (SEL) in a rural public school district in Tennessee. This study examined individual, explicit experiences of educators related to addressing the SEL needs of students. Bandura’s social cognitive theory primarily guided this study as it relates closely to the behavioral, personal, and environmental factors that all play a role in the way a teacher responds to professional learning. The data collection involved a qualifying survey, a questionnaire, interviews with participants (novice teachers and veteran teachers), and a focus group. Data analysis included a full description of the researcher’s personal experiences with the phenomenon with a focus toward the participants’ views of importance of the phenomenon. Significant statements were examined about participants experiencing the phenomenon. What and how statements were noted verbatim during the analysis of data. The findings highlight the need for high-quality, impactful training related to SEL. While some SEL trainings have been offered and the district does seem to believe in the importance of SEL as related to students, the experiences of participants indicated a lack of depth and relevance in their SEL professional learning that may translate to positive change with students.