High School Math and Language Arts Teachers’ Experience Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Anxious Students in High-Poverty, Rural Schools: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study
Mental health, and specifically anxiety, is a growing problem significantly impacting the well-being of adolescents in the United States. Thirteen percent of adolescent’s experience anxiety-related disorders annually (Hill, Waite & Creswell, 2016; Peterson, 2018). School districts are critical settings in which to provide the prevention and intervention of anxiety (DeKruyf, Auger & Trice-Black, 2013; Domitrovich, Durlak, Staley & Weissberg, 2017; Lendrum, Humphrey, & Wigelsworth, 2013; Warner et al., 2016). Using transcendental phenomenology, this study drew on the lived experiences of math and language arts teachers to show their perceptions of their role with students experiencing anxiety along with their background knowledge of working with anxious students. High school teachers directly educate students on a daily basis and can support students experiencing anxiety. Understanding the relationship teachers have with anxious students is essential for their success. The purpose of this study was to discover the lived experiences of math and language arts teachers as they educate high school students in high-poverty rural schools affected by anxiety. By investigating teachers lived experiences, the beliefs, attitudes and needs regarding their support of anxious students was drawn out. The analysis found several themes woven throughout the interviews of all eight participants. Those themes included: (a) teachers perceived role, (b) relationship building, (c) finding balance, (d) the learning environment, (e) changes in the classroom, (f) background knowledge and training, and (g) positive perceptions of the school counselor.
The themes revealed relevant information for teachers, counselors, and school leaders as they consider the phenomenon of adolescent anxiety and the practical implications it has on student learning, the learning environment, and student well-being. The implications focus on teacher skill development along with building teacher social and emotional competency to foster positive relationships with students.
Date of Degree
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Strasser, C. W. (2020). High school math and language arts teachers’ experience meeting the mental health needs of anxious students in high-poverty, rural schools: A qualitative phenomenological study [Doctoral dissertation, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/993/
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