Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Tamerin Tooker

Second Advisor

Dr. Bendta Friesen

Third Advisor

Dr. Robin Pierson


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of San Bernardino County elementary school teachers in supporting students' social-emotional learning needs upon returning to face-to-face instruction after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methodology: This phenomenological study identified and described San Bernardino County elementary school teachers' experiences supporting students' social-emotional needs upon returning to face-to-face instruction after the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were purposively chosen based on specific criteria of working in a public kindergarten through sixth grade setting within San Bernardino County. The participants answered 15 semi-structured questions. The transcribed data collected by the researcher during the 12 interviews and artifact collection were then uploaded to the software program NVIVO where patterns and themes were developed to answer the research questions.

Findings: The shared experiences of participants and the supports given socially and emotionally were: (a) behaviors dominated by the inability to regulate emotions, (b) provided access to a variety of coping strategies, (c) built relationships with students and parents/guardians, (d) emotional support was given through curriculum, district resources, and school support staff, (e) low self-management skills that led to undesired vii behaviors, (f) collaborated and built supports by reaching out to home and support staff, (g) positive communication and strategies to manage one’s behavior, (h) adverse social interactions that led to playground and classroom disruptions, (i) empathy-focused lessons and discussions, (j) lacked verbal and nonverbal interpersonal skills, (k) encouraged and guided students to strengthen their interpersonal communication skills, (l) inadequacy in making caring, productive, and responsible decisions and (m) nurtured responsible decision-making through modeling and reflecting.

Conclusions: The three conclusions are: (a) continued supports in self-management and social awareness are essential in developing appropriate behaviors, (b) COVID-19 has dramatically impacted students’ abilities to make caring and productive decisions, and (c) education needs to continue to build emotional support systems that are adequately staffed and trained properly.

Recommendations: Three recommendations are: (a) a replication study with a larger sample size, (b) a study identifying emotional support programs and resources aligned to current classroom needs, and (c) a study zeroed in on mental diagnosis after COVID-19 pandemic in students.