School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Ruth Ziegler


teacher preparedness, drug education




This transcendental phenomenological study aimed to describe the experiences of preparedness of early-career teachers (i.e., teachers in their first five years in the profession) who have dealt with student addiction behaviors and academic decline in the classroom within several Northeast Pennsylvania public school districts. Mezirow’s transformational learning theory guided this study as it addressed how adults interpret and make meaning through life experiences. The central research question guiding this study was: How do early-career teachers describe their experiences dealing with student addiction behaviors in the classroom while preserving their academic success? Fifteen early-career teachers in the public school system (grades 6-12) provided input through three data collection methods: an open-ended individual interview, journal prompts, and a focus group. Several major themes emerged during data analysis: Teachers' feelings of preparedness and teaching experience, teacher preparedness for classroom necessities, teacher support/resources, and teacher preparedness and collaborative pursuits. These themes confirm that teachers’ experiences with substance abuse students could benefit other unprepared teachers to successfully incorporate specific strategies into the classrooms and confirm the need for additional research in this area of education. Data were analyzed using steps outlined by Moustakas and included; epoché, transcendental-phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and essence development.

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