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Disruptive students' relationships with their teachers in the first three years of school
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 01:57 authored by Kevin F. McGrath
Student-teacher relationships comprise a critically important aspect of the elementary classroom. How disruptive students and their teachers experience the emotional quality of those relationships, however, is poorly understood. I examine this emotional quality in three ways. First, I used a drawing task to compare how disruptive and well-behaved students, aged 5-8 years old (N = 51), represented the emotional quality of their relationships with different teachers. Although boys portrayed greater negativity than girls, there was no effect of student behaviour. Disruptive and well-behaved students portrayed equally positive relationships. Second, I used a speech sample task to compare teachers' (N = 47) emotional and relational expressions when speaking about their relationships with those same students. In contrast to the findings for students,there was a significant effect for behaviour. Teachers used a more negative emotional and relational tone when speaking about disruptive students. Lastly, using teachers' speech samples I identified 'complicated' relationships (high in expressed conflict and closeness) with eight disruptive students. Examining the characteristics that might facilitate closeness, despite high conflict, I identify teachers' causal attributions and emotional competence. Together these findings yield strong implications for elementary teachers' relationships with young disruptive students and for the emotional climate of the classroom.