Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning


Secondary Education

First Advisor

Helen S. Hamlet

Second Advisor

Amber Jean-Marie Pabon

Third Advisor

Susan Ursprung


Primary students begin their school careers with widely varied skill sets in the areas of social and emotional competence, executive function, and self-regulation. However, many schools, like the one in this study, do not include social and emotional learning (SEL) in their curricula or tiered intervention frameworks. Students who struggle with basic classroom functions and behaviors do not receive the maximum benefit from academic instruction. Conversely, high levels of social and emotional competence have been linked to future academic success, financial and job security and better physical and mental health.

This investigation sought to identify proactive strategies used by three first-grade teachers in a rural primary (K-2) school in Pennsylvania and to identify trends participants have observed among first-grade students. The three teachers were selected by their peers and administrators as possessing particular skill in improving students’ social and emotional competence. Additional participants included four special area teachers: art, guidance, and two physical education teachers. All seven participants participated in semi-structured interviews intended to collect their observations about trends they see among their first-grade students. Additionally, each of the three first-grade participants was observed eight times at various times during the school day.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.



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