This chapter is structured around the tenet that the single best way to enact social change in the school context is to focus on the interactions students have with their teachers. These interactions are the core of the student experience from kindergarten classrooms to high school classrooms; however, they are not often given center stage in teacher training and professional development programs. This is a missed opportunity for the educational system because there is strong evidence that a focus on improving teacher–student relationships and interactions is a tangible target for interventions aimed at improving student outcomes.
Publications by Year: 2016
Multilevel mediation analyses test whether students' mid-year reports of classroom experiences of autonomy, relatedness with peers, and competence mediate associations between early in the school year emotionally-supportive teacher-student interactions (independently observed) and student-reported academic year changes in mastery motivation and behavioral engagement. When teachers were observed to be more emotionally-supportive in the beginning of the school year, adolescents reported academic year increases in their behavioral engagement and mastery motivation. Mid-year student reports indicated that in emotionally-supportive classrooms, adolescents experienced more developmentally-appropriate opportunities to exercise autonomy in their day-to-day activities and had more positive relationships with their peers. Analyses of the indirect effects of teacher emotional support on students' engagement and motivation indicated significant mediating effects of autonomy and peer relatedness experiences, but not competence beliefs, in this sample of 960 students (ages 11–17) in the classrooms of 68 middle and high school teachers in 12 U.S. schools.
Black students are issued school discipline sanctions at rates higher than members of other racial and ethnic groups, underscoring the need for professional development that addresses this gap. In 86 secondary classrooms, a randomized controlled trial examined the effects of a 2-year teacher coaching program, My Teaching Partner Secondary (MTP-S). Results from the second year of coaching and the year after coaching was discontinued replicated previous findings from the first year of coaching—intervention teachers had no significant disparities in discipline referral between Black students and their classmates, compared to teachers in the control condition, for whom racial discipline gaps remained. Thus, MTP-S effects were replicated in the second year of coaching and maintained when coaching was withdrawn. Mediational analyses identified mechanisms for these effects; Black students had a low probability of receiving disciplinary referrals with teachers who increased skills to engage students in high-level analysis and inquiry
Background—Subjective well-being as a predictor for later behavior and health has highlighted its relationship to health, work performance, and social relationships. However, the majority of such studies neglect the developmental nature of well-being in contributing to important changes across the transition to adulthood.
Methods—To examine the potential role of subjective well-being as a long-term predictor of critical life outcomes, we examined indicators of positive and negative affect at age 14 as a predictor of relationship, adjustment, self worth, and career outcomes a decade later at ages 23 to 25, controlling for family income and gender. We utilized multi-informant methods including reports from the target participant, close friends, and romantic partners in a demographically diverse community sample of 184 participants.
Results—Early adolescent positive affect predicted less relationship problems (less selfreported and partner-reported conflict, greater friendship attachment as rated by close peers), healthy adjustment to adulthood (lower levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness). It also predicted positive work functioning (higher levels of career satisfaction and job competence) and increased self-worth. Negative affect did not significantly predict any of these important life outcomes. In addition to predicting desirable mean levels of later outcomes, early positive affect predicted beneficial changes across time in many outcomes.
Conclusions—The findings extend early research on the beneficial outcomes of subjective well-being by having an earlier assessment of well-being, including informant reports in measuring a large variety of outcome variables, and by extending the findings to a lower socioeconomic group of a diverse and younger sample. The results highlight the importance of considering positive affect as an important component of subjective well-being distinct from negative affect.