Middle School Teachers' and Administrators' Experiences When Students Transition
Student discipline and subsequent placements are a common problem in education. This qualitative phenomenological study addressed a gap in the literature by discovering the experiences of middle school teachers and administrators regarding student discipline, classroom removal, and assignment of students to alternative education. This research describes the development of an interview protocol based on critical incident theory and demonstrates its usage in drawing out thick, rich descriptions which help increase the trustworthiness of qualitative research. Initial interview data are presented to highlight the utilization of critical incident theory to elicit specific information about how participants experienced various critical interactions that influenced academic decisions about the student removal process, the kinds of situations and safety issues they encountered, and training they received for managing student removal. Data were collected using audio recorded and transcribed in-depth interviews using open ended questions with participants. Six teachers and 2 administrators from 3 middle schools in the southern U.S. responded to 15 questions in semistructured interviews that were audio recorded and transcribed. Qualitative analysis of the interviews revealed an overarching theme of managing disruptive classroom behavior. Participants described classroom management difficulties, their methods of dealing with disruptive students, and their emotional reactions to disruptions. Some teachers shared that at times, they reconsidered their decision to teach due to classroom management problems, and some revealed that their classroom management training had been deficient. Recommendations include further research on the degree and kinds of stress resulting from teachers having to deal with student discipline problems. Implications for positive social change include motivating schools to evaluate their programs of continuing teacher education for dealing with classroom discipline and to provide opportunities for teachers to discuss, with their peers, their behavioral and emotional reactions to difficult student encounters, thereby contributing to teacher well-being and retention.