All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education & Allied Health

Degree Program

Collaborative High Impact Instruction


Education and Special Education

First Advisor

Jamie Doronkin

Second Advisor

Gale Rice

Third Advisor

Sarah Huisman

Fourth Advisor

Joanne fish


ACES, Trauma, Toxic stress, Emotional intelligence, Equity, Agency


Many students experience or have experienced both Adverse Community Environments and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) (Alive and Well STL, 2021). When students come to school having experienced these ACEs they may be operating from the survival region of the brain. The four conditions of the survival brain are fight, flight, fright, or fawn. (Alive & Well STL, 2021). These conditions cause behaviors that may appear to teachers as misbehavior, classroom disruption, and rule breaking. These misunderstandings and misinterpretations may be due to teachers’ lack of knowledge about their students and specifically about their traumas, current and past (Griffin-King, 2022). Additional causes may be teachers’ lack of emotional intelligence due to stress and being overwhelmed, as well as implicit and explicit attitudes toward minorities, marginalized groups and students with special needs.

This qualitative study was a case study methodology to investigate real-life experiences of secondary teachers through the use of systems of detailed in-depth data collection from journals, interviews and interactive activities (Creswell & Poth, 2018). The case for analysis is the language teachers use to talk to and about traumatized students. The parameters are defined as secondary teachers who teach students with maladaptive behaviors that regularly disrupt teaching and learning. The intent of this case is to describe and detail how teacher language regarding student misbehaviors, classroom disruptions and rule breaking may change when teachers know of students’ trauma prior to the maladaptive behavior.


Redacted in online version: Signature page, Appendix A (IRB Approval Letter).

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Creative Commons License

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