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Cieminski, Amie B.

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This grounded constructivist theory study explored 21 public-school teachers’ perceptions of important knowledge for implementing social-emotional content at the secondary level to diverse populations of students and students who have experienced trauma. The participants in this study represented seven unique school districts from two different states in suburban and rural settings who have taught Social-Emotional Learning for at least 2 years. One main research question and three sub-questions guided this grounded theory study: What is your perception regarding what are important aspects of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) implemented currently at the secondary level that is inclusive of all learners from all backgrounds? What is your perception regarding what are important aspects of SEL implemented currently at the secondary level that is inclusive of learners dealing with trauma? What should secondary educators know and be able to do during inclusive SEL instruction? The data collection methods included 60-90-minute, individual, in-depth interviews with secondary teachers and a voluntary follow-up focus group discussion with participants to verify data given in the individual interviews. Three rounds of coding were conducted throughout data analysis: open, axial, and selective. Throughout data collection and analysis, constant comparison of data were completed to identify emerging categories and themes aligned to participant quotes, views, and experiences in the classroom. The overarching theme identified in implementing secondary SEL that is transformative and trauma-informed was building positive relationships with students from all backgrounds and experiences. The Theory of Important Knowledge for Inclusive Secondary SEL Instruction focuses on teachers building relationships and getting to know students first and foremost through knowing themselves, students and implementing inclusive SEL content. This model is enhanced by administrative support, proper professional development, and training in transformative and trauma-informed Social-Emotional Learning, and the availability of appropriate resources for teachers. In each of the three themes, the teacher participants’ voices revealed answers to the research questions, and these were the data used during analysis and findings. Discussion of the findings occurs regarding implications for secondary teachers and school leaders and recommendations for further research. We are continuing to navigate the same issues that prompted this study and therefore will have much more data to collect regarding the impact of COVID-19 and the social-justice movement on education.


226 pages

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