Challenges of Teaching Students with EBD


Challengesof Teaching Students with EBD

Challengesof Teaching Students with EBD

Theimportance of emotional stability in an individual’s life cannot begainsaid as far as safeguarding his capacity to live a normal life isconcerned. Recent times have seen an increased interest in theemotional health of individuals right from an extremely early age.This seems to contradict the commonly held notion that childhood is acarefree stage of life and acknowledged that a large number ofchildren and adolescents go through emotional difficulties in thecourse of growing up. Nevertheless, there has been immense challengesin the definition of Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD). EBD isdefined as a condition where an individual exhibits certaincharacteristics over an extended period of time and to such an extentthat the educational performance of the child is adversely affected(Sutherland et al, 2002). These characteristics include the inabilityto establish and sustain sufficient interpersonal relationships withone’s friends and teachers, general persistent mood of depressionand unhappiness, the tendency to establish fears and physicalsymptoms that relate to school or personal problems, unsuitable typesof feelings and behavior under typical or normal circumstances, aswell as the incapacity to learn that is not explained by sensory,health and intellectual factors.

However,there have been immense challenges regarding the appropriateness ofthis definition. It has been well acknowledged that the definitionterms are imprecise to such an intent that it is possible forinterpretations to differ among states, school districts, as well asindividuals. In addition, the characteristics outlined as thedefining features also introduce some contradiction as the conditionsmay be mistaken for other ailments (Sutherland et al, 2002). Forinstance, incapacity to learn makes ED similar to Learningdisability, while inability to establish and sustain satisfactoryrelationships with the teachers and friends suggests problems withsocial adjustments. Further, the rest of the criteria seem tocategorize students as showing ED types prior to determination ofeligibility. This has resulted in the remaking of the definition soas to make it more acceptable. In this case, it is defined as adisability that involves emotional and behavioral responses in schoolprograms that are diverge from the right ethnic, age and culturalnorms to such an extent that the responses have an adverse effect onthe educational performance of the child including social, personal,vocational, academic and personal skills beyond the expected andtemporary advancement in this field.

Thereare numerous challenges that are associated with teaching childrensuffering from EBD or Emotional Behavioral Disorder. One of the keychallenges remain the deficiency of teachers who have the appropriatetraining (Sutherland et al, 2002). Even in instances where suchteachers are present, they may fail to implement the right strategiesin the appropriate manner. Indeed, even in instances where intensivein-service programs have been provided with the aim of teachingschool personnel on how to design and implement particularintervention strategies, the teachers failed to implement the chosenintervention strategies in place in an effective manner.

Inaddition, it is often challenging to create an environment wherestudents can learn both social and academic skills at rates that areacceptable. There has been intense debate on whether generaleducation classroom should be offered as the appropriate one forstudents suffering from EBD. Studies have shown that sufficientefforts has not been put to include such students in generaleducation classrooms, with close to 50% of educational institutionsfailing to offer supplementary services for such students (Sutherlandet al, 2002).

Further,there have been concerns regarding curricular modification, wherethere have been concerns among a large proportion of educators thatthe modification of the curriculum pertaining to individuals withEmotional or Behavioral Disorders so as to enhance student response,concentrate on social skills and retain their attention results inthe creation of a curriculum of non-instruction. Indeed, there iswidespread belief that as much as this may be crucial, emphasis hasbeen excessively placed on socio-behavioral matters, whileinsufficient emphasis or attention is given to core curriculum ofscience, social studies, mathematics and reading (Oswald et al,2001). There is increased feeling that the emphasis would be sociallyharmful to the students as it would create a barrier between suchstudents and other general education students.


Aspecial education team would be charged with the responsibility ofexamining the varied challenges that inhibit the making of anappropriate curriculum and learning environment for individuals withEDB. This team would be drawn from varied professions and categoriesof individuals so as to come up with a wholesome collection ofstrategies regarding how these challenges could be addressed (Oswaldet al, 2001). Of particular note is the fact that these individualswould have different forms of expertise in education in general andspecial education in particular. These would include a regulareducator, an administrator, a parent and a special educator.

Areasof expertise for the members

Theparent included in the team would have to have a child or childrenwith special needs. In essence, he or she has the requisiteexperience pertaining to bringing up a child with emotional orbehavioral disorders, which would allow the team to have a clearfocus on the varied unique needs that such students have.

The administrator would have to be well versed with theadministration of education institutions, preferably but notnecessarily, institutions that cater for both general and specialeducation students. This would give the team a special view regardingresource allocation in such institutions.

Specialeducators would have expertise working with students with variedmental, physical, emotional and learning disabilities. They wouldhave the capacity to modify or customize general education lessons,as well as teach different subjects including math, reading, andwriting to students suffering from moderate or mild disabilities(Oswald et al, 2001). Further, they have the capacity to teachfundamental skills including communication and literacy techniques tostudents who are suffering from severe disabilities.

Lastly,the general educator would have expertise in dealing with childrenwith varying degrees of knowledge (Sutherland et al, 2002). He or shehas the capacity to examine the children’s capabilities anddetermine which category an individual belongs to, as well as whetherspecial education is needed. Further, he or she is knowledgeable inmatters pertaining to the needs of these children.

Diagnosticconcerns and teaching challenges

Thedeficiency of clear guidelines regarding how to determine whether achild has EBD is one of the diagnostic concerns. More often than not,the characteristics exhibited by such kids bear some resemblance toother ailments, in which case it is impossible to tell clearlywhether the child is suffering from EBD or the other ailments.Further, the deficiency of proper definition, ambiguity of the termsand deficiency of consensus regarding the aspects that may be seen associally acceptable, coupled with the difficulty in classification ofthe same up to such a time when these students would learn moreproper communication means presents unique challenges. Teachers oftenuse instructional language on EBD students, requiring language skillsthat the student lacks in the first place. Lastly, not only are therefew well-trained teachers to handle EBD students, but there is alsodeficient financial resources dedicated to the provision ofcustomized education to these students. This is complicated by theneed to prevent any educational strategies that would result insocial alienation of EBD students from general students (Gunter etal, 2002). Further, there are instances where teachers evadecurricular modification on the basis of their values. For instance,as much as a particular curricular alteration may be proven to assistEBD students improve their behaviors and complete tasks successfully,teachers may feel that they undermine the crucial nature ofhandwriting and, thereby fail to implement such alterations(Sutherland et al, 2002).

Changesto Resolve the Issues

Variedchanges could be made so as to eliminate or at least alleviate theissues noted. First, policies must be adopted regarding whatstructures are required so as to enhance behavior and learning forsuch students (Oswald et al, 2001). These structures must be put inplace irrespective of what the teachers feel about them, with properreview being carried out to ensure their full implementation.

Further,key to resolving the deficiency of well-trained teachers is the needfor increased financing for the sector. Collaboration betweeneducators, parents and administrators is imperative so as to ensurethat the EBD students are not isolated further from other students.

Modificationof definitions

Asmuch as there is ambiguity in the definition of EBD, it is imperativethat changes are not made on the characteristics that would signal atthe same. Nevertheless, it should be understood that the presence ofone characteristic should not be misconstrued to necessarily signalat EBD rather it should only be in instances where two or more of thecharacteristics are seen in a child that the warning bells should besignaled (Gunter et al, 2002).


Gunter,P. L., Coutinho, M. J., &amp Cade, T. (2002). Classroom factorslinked with academic gains among students with emotional andbehavioral problems. PreventingSchool Failure,46(3), 126-133.

Oswald,D. P., Cohen, R., Best, A. L., Jenson, C. E., &amp Lyons, J. S.(2001). Child strengths and the level of care for children withemotional and behavioral disorders. Journalof Emotional &amp Behavioral Disorders,9(3), 192-200.

Sutherland,K. S., Wehby, J. H., &amp Yoder, P. J. (2002). Examination of therelationship between teacher praise and opportunities for studentswith EBD to respond to academic requests. Journalof Emotional &amp Behavioral Disorders,10(1),5-14.