Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



John D. Holst

Second Advisor

Thomas L. Fish

Third Advisor

Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan


This qualitative phenomenological study sought to understand how beginning special education teachers experience the relationship between their teacher training and their actual teaching practice. Effective and insufficient aspects of the teacher training programs of special education teachers were explored. Thirteen special education teachers across age and disability settings were interviewed to gather data regarding their thoughts on the overlap of their special education teacher training programs and their current job duties. The interviews were transcribed and coded. Using theoretical frameworks, the data were analyzed until themes became apparent.
The findings indicated that some areas of their special education training were adequate while others were not. Interview participants discussed effective teacher preparation in the areas of classroom experience, behavioral interventions, and work experience and other training. Paperwork and legalities, academics and curriculum, scheduling, time management, and lack of experiences were areas that interview participants described as insufficient. Analysis of the data revealed the benefits of hands-on experiences as well as life experiences. The analysis also pointed to special education teacher job conditions that were less than ideal.
Recommendations include colleges and universities including a legal and paperwork class, an “essentials” class to provide special education teachers with basic knowledge, as well as a mandatory checklist of tasks to complete while student teaching in classrooms. Other recommendations are directed toward policymakers. These include a change to special education license from grades K-12 certification to grades K-5 and grades 6-12 certification to allow special education teachers to be specialized in a certain age level as well as putting firm caps on special education teacher caseloads.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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