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Human Services


Garth den Heyer


Trauma is not something the untrained eye can see; it can be described as a silent issue, but the effects of trauma are seen in society. Research about trauma has focused on the perspective of the student and not the interaction between the teacher and the student. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore classroom teachers’ perceptions and experiences with addressing students’ trauma-related behavior. The theoretical foundation was trauma theory. Data were collected through questionnaires and in-person interviews with teachers and administrators who work in Southwest Pennsylvania. There were a total of 13 participants. Descriptive coding was used to identify themes. During the descriptive coding process, a descriptive word was given to a thought or observation so that similar ideas and concepts could later be combined. Multiple rounds of coding were conducted. Once codes were applied to the transcripts, categories were determined. The codes that emerged determined the categories. If needed, subcategories were applied. Once the categories were identified, themes were identified that represented the larger ideas behind the codes and categories. Results indicated that all teachers encountered trauma, external behaviors were more likely to be noticed, teachers needed to structure their day based on the possibility of triggering a student, and there was no consistent response to trauma. Findings may be used to help students perform better in school, which will benefit students, parents, teachers, administrators, and society.

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