Graduation Date

5-2019

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Education

Program Director

Elizabeth Truesdell, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Kathleen Ferrando, PhD

Abstract

Since 1998, substantial evidence has demonstrated rates of prevalence for different types of adverse or potentially traumatizing experiences that can happen during childhood, commonly referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). In response, many studies have demonstrated the benefits of trauma-informed practices in mental health. Despite supporting evidence, policymakers have been slow to implement these practices in schools. Teachers are on the front lines of this issue. They are in a position to be most effective in supporting children and most impacted by student behavior yet their voice is notably absent from the literature. The purpose of this study is to find out how common teachers perceive ACEs to be, both nationally and among their students, and how they perceive student behavior, what behaviors they see, what they attribute those behaviors to and what they think would support students with challenging behaviors. I developed a survey and then distributed digitally at three schools in three districts in the Bay Area and received 41 responses. I then conducted seven qualitative interviews with teachers at the three schools. The interviews revealed teachers’ eagerness to support their students, lack of related training, eagerness to receive training on trauma-informed practices. Several teachers had enthusiastically incorporated training they have received on related subjects, such as mindfulness, into their practice. My findings suggest that if teachers were to receive ongoing training on trauma-informed practices and understood just how many kids are impacted, they would enthusiastically adopt these practices into their teaching.

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