Title page for ETD etd-04272004-173237

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Myers, Susan
URN etd-04272004-173237
Title An Illustration of the Work Lives of Experienced Teachers of Students with Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorders at the Middle School Level
Degree PhD
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Crockett, Jean B. Committee Chair
Billingsley, Bonnie S. Committee Member
Boyer, Lynn Committee Member
Driscoll, Lisa G. Committee Member
Sughrue, Jennifer A. Committee Member
  • emotional and/or behavioral disorders
  • Activity theory
  • special education teachers
Date of Defense 2004-04-20
Availability unrestricted
An Illustration of the Work Lives of Experienced Teachers of Students with Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorders at the Middle School Level

Susan T. Myers


The purpose of this qualitative study is to illustrate how experienced teachers of students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EB/D) working in middle school settings conduct their work. In the current context of public education, the work of teaching students with EB/D is considered stressful and undesirable by many individuals and has resulted in a shortage of adequately prepared and experienced special educators willing to teach this vulnerable population (Westat, 2002). In response to the shortage, school districts may resort to hiring improperly prepared individuals-- a practice that impedes the provision of an appropriate education to students with disabilities (Kauffman, 2001; Turnbull & Turnbull; 1998). In order to understand the work of those special educators who have remained in the field of teaching students with EB/D, this exploratory case study examined the work of four experienced special education teachers teaching students with EB/D in various instructional settings in middle schools in Virginia. Activity theory (Engeström, 1999) provided the conceptual framework in this study. The results of this study support the current research literature on the work of teaching students with EB/D. The teachers spent their workday (a) supporting their students’ progress in the general education curriculum, (b) developing their students’ prosocial skills, and (c) fulfilling multiple non-teaching related duties. Efforts to teach their students were impeded by (a) difficulties in working relationships with certain general education teachers and (b) meeting the complex responsibilities of being a special educator in the current context of public middle schools.

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