With the implementation of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act (SB-7026) and the introduction of the Trauma Informed Schools Act of 2019 (H.R. 4146), the need for well-prepared behavior specialists is critical as well as, difficult in inclusive public school settings. Improving structures within the trauma-informed schools model that address challenges that individuals in these roles face will require a better understanding of the ideal day-to-day roles and responsibilities that behavior specialist have. Specifically, their roles need to be understood by school-based administrators who will support them. The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to explore how five female behavior specialists, who work with students that identify with emotional/behavioral disabilities (E/BD) in inclusive trauma informed middle school settings, defined, and experienced their roles. This dissertation sheds light on the actual contextual factors at the middle school level that shape their work regarding how they spend their time. Participant selection was done with purposeful, criterion sampling. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews and field observations. Findings consisted of behavior specialists identifying their primary roles as promoting students' behavioral growth as well as, supporting teachers in the academic environment. They also described experiencing dissonance between their ideal roles and their actual daily work. Emergent responsibilities unrelated to their roles accounted for a substantial amount of effort and time. Behavior specialist also experience challenges such as a lack of collaboration with general education teachers and being assigned extra-unrelated responsibilities, resulting in participants experiencing isolation and a feeling of not being valued. Implications for improving the overall quality of special educator's workforce are noted.
Originally published on August 28, 2020, this ETD was updated on April 22, 2021 so that Bettini et al. (2019) was properly cited on page 32.
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Learning Sciences and Educational Research
Curriculum and Instruction
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Jackson, Stephanie, "Behavior Specialist Experiences of Roles and Responsibilites in Inclusive Trauma Informed Schools" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 234.