How Principals Address the Social and Emotional Needs of Students: A Case Study in South Texas Schools
Under ESSA, each state was required to submit a plan as to how it was to address policies of ESSA. In the plan submitted by the State of Texas on March, 2018 the components of SEL were addressed under Title I, Part A "to improve school conditions for student learning by reducing incidents of bullying, the overuse of discipline practices that remove students from the classroom, and the use of aversive behavioral interventions that compromise student health and safety." (TEA, 2018). This qualitative case study was guided by the central research question, How do principals address the social and emotional needs of students in elementary schools? The participants for this study were three elementary school principals in South Texas with the primary purpose of better understanding how they address the social and emotional needs of the students in their campus. The researcher solicited data from interviews, and kept a researcher's journal during the field study. These conversation-like interviews were approximately one hour long. Transcripts were member checked for trustworthiness. Permission from participants was solicited to review artifacts such as newsletters, photos from their school websites, and if available, letters from students and parents to the participants. To establish dependability of the data, the Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) for each campus where the participants worked were reviewed. The purpose of this study was to explore how principals respond to the social and emotional needs of their students in elementary schools. It also explored how principals made decisions to address SEL in the schools. From making decisions to purchase commercially-available programs, and/or whether or not to provide staff development for their teachers to support these initiatives. As such, this study was aimed to better understand the principal's decisions and impacts for practice. The study used a pairing of an ethic of care (Noddings, 2007) and justice (Starratt, 1991) to collect and analyze the data. The researcher interpreted the findings using the analytic approach that best aligns with the theory to create a conceptualization of the study. This study provides implications for policy, research and practice.