Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Donna Brackin



General education early childhood (EC) teachers may find it challenging to build positive teacher-student relationships (TSRs) with students with emotional behavioral disorders (EBD). There is a gap in practice regarding general education EC teachers’ TSRs with students with EBD and the support they need when teaching these students. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of general education EC teachers regarding their TSRs and the support they need when teaching students with EBD. The conceptual framework was Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory of human development. Participants were nine general education EC teachers who were currently employed in a public school district located in a U.S. metropolitan area with 3 or more years of experience teaching students with EBD. Data were collected from semistructured interviews and analyzed inductively using open coding. Three themes emerged: general education EC teachers believe that applying rules and discipline consistently and using incentives improved their TSRs with students with EBD, EC teachers need professionals and paraprofessionals when teaching students with EBD, and EC teachers require parental involvement to understand EBD students’ individual needs and family dynamics to build good TSRs. The results of this study have the potential to bring about positive social change by providing school administrators and educational leaders with information to initiate the implementation of strategies, techniques, and programs to support teachers who work with students with EBD and improve the academic success of these students.