A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS IMPLEMENTING A SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING PROGRAM WITH AT-RISK STUDENTS
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore, research, understand, and document the lived experiences of middle school teachers implementing a social emotional learning curriculum with at-risk students. Specifically, the researcher examined the perception of teachers regarding what professional development is needed to successfully implement a social emotional learning curriculum and the effectiveness of the curriculum with at-risk middle school students. The researcher also examined what strategies teachers believe are most effective when implementing a social emotional learning curriculum with at-risk middle school students and how teachers can utilize the tenets of the social emotional lessons throughout the year to promote a significant change in classroom culture. The researcher implemented a phenomenological research design that included an open-ended survey, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group with five different middle school teachers who were involved with implementing a social emotional learning curriculum with at-risk students. The results of the study indicated that teachers must be well-supported and trained properly to implement a social emotional learning curriculum effectively within their classroom, the social emotional learning curriculum should only be a piece of the social emotional program on a campus, and the lessons with at-risk students should be conducted in small groups, with more discussions instead of class work.