The Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship


This study investigated the qualities, knowledge, and skills of effective teachers for students with emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD) from the perspective of six special education teachers. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and a focus group. An analysis of the data yielded three themes. First, effective EBD teachers develop unconditional teacher- student relationships. No matter how many setbacks a student with EBD may experience, the effective EBD teacher relentlessly affirms his or her belief in the student’s ability to succeed. Second, effective EBD teachers create positive classroom environments. When students with EBD are removed from the general education setting or experience a crisis at school, the effective EBD teacher provides a safe, consistent, and nonjudgmental haven. Finally, effective EBD teachers individualize instruction. Having knowledge of behavioral disorders and effective strategies is insufficient. The effective EBD teacher identifies the unique needs of each student and designs instruction that meets students’ individual academic and behavioral needs.