Date of Award
Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning
Kathleen Stanfa, Ph.D.
Patricia Walsh-Coates Ph.D.
Scott Tracy, Ed. D.
This phenomenological study utilizes narrative inquiry to analyze four teachers’ perceptions of their lives, occupations, and institutional expectations following a student’s death. Through participant interviews and personal reflections, the researcher observes the effects of a student’s death through a Contemporary Trauma Theory framework. Through this lens, trauma-narratives are a powerful tool in helping those affected by loss reframe the events and understand them in a clearer context. Participants indicated that there is an increase of concern for the parents of the deceased, feelings of guilt and regret, and retraumatization due to the lasting presence of the deceased student. Perceptions of participants’ occupations also changed. After the student’s death, there was an increased importance of connecting to students in personal and emotional ways and a greater awareness of the difficulty in taking on multiple roles in the classroom during the grieving process. Institutionally, participants felt that there was a responsibility to be strong and keep teaching and there was a lack of consistency and direction. Educators need to be incorporated into current trauma-informed practices, and pre-service education programs should include courses about death, grief, and bereavement to better prepare educators for the inevitability of loss.
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Berryman, Lori G., "Another Empty Seat: Educators’ Experiences with Trauma and Grief After a Student’s Death" (2022). Education Doctorate Dissertations. 30.
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