Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Gizelle Luevano

Second Advisor

Ian Menchini


Social–emotional learning (SEL) is used in public school classrooms throughout the United States. The problem that this researcher addressed in this study was that minimal understanding exists of the lived experiences of teachers who implement SEL in Colorado public schools in Grades 7–12. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore and to provide a clearer understanding of the lived experiences of six educators who implement SEL in Grades 7–12 in Colorado public schools. The study fills a gap in literature in understanding the experiences of teachers who use SEL in middle and high school. The literature review revealed three themes: (a) the importance of teachers, (b) the evolution of SEL, and (c) the significance of SEL. Six teachers from public schools across Colorado participated in semi-structured interviews via Zoom. Thematic analysis was used to find patterns and code data. In this study, this researcher found four main themes: (a) teacher buy-in, (b) identify emotions, (c) safety and trust, and (d) value of relationships. Data collected also revealed subthemes: (a) the need for students to identify emotions through vocabulary, self-awareness, and coping skills; (b) build safety and trust in classrooms, and (c) the value of relationships in classrooms between students and teachers. From the findings, this researcher recommended action for improvements in professional development and coaching for educators who implement SEL. Other recommendations for future study were presented for continued improvement in the field of education for students and teachers.


Ed.D. Dissertation



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