Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Pamela Scott

Committee Members

Dr. Ginger Christian, Dr. William Flora


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to investigate the perceptions of classroom-level educators regarding the application of trauma-informed instructional practices. This was achieved by evaluating educators' understanding of the influence of trauma on students, their level of familiarity with trauma-informed instructional practices, and their assessments of the effectiveness of these practices. Trauma refers to an individual's response to a single traumatic incident, a succession of traumatic events, or extended exposure to a traumatic event (SAMHSA, 2014). As awareness of the prevalence of childhood trauma has increased, it is acknowledged as a serious public health issue (Lang et al., 2015).

Trauma-informed care is a strengths-based, victim-centered framework under which organizations recognize trauma, understand, and limit the potential long-term repercussions of exposure to traumatic experiences, even if an individual does not perceive trauma as influencing their behavior (Kubiak et al., 2017; Office for Victims of Crime, n.d.). Educators have a distinct advantage in identifying students' traumatic stress symptoms, which can directly affect social-emotional growth and academic achievement (Conley et al., 2014; Donisch et al., 2022). Schools play a crucial role in establishing settings that safeguard students against adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), cultivate resilience, and nurture a sense of belongingness (Conley et al., 2014; Hertz, 2020).

Eight educators from one northeast Tennessee school district who provided general and special education instruction to students in PreK-12th grade participated in the study. Data collection consisted of one-on-one video conferencing interviews. The data were coded and analyzed to identify emerging themes, synthesized, and summarized (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). The following themes emerged: (a) increased awareness of trauma and ACEs, (b) desire for additional training, (c) diversity of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma exposures, (d) perceived negative behaviors resulting from or masking trauma, (e) the significance of procedures and structure, (f) the need for supplementary resources, (g) the importance of relationship building, (h) importance of opportunities for success, (i) facilitation of individualized instruction, (j) increased empathy, (k) increased patience and self-awareness, and (l) emotional, physical, and mental stress.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.