Teachers' meta-emotion profiles and their relationship quality with high- and low- compliant students
Students who present with behaviours of concern, including non-compliant behaviours and high emotional dysregulation, are more likely to experience poorer relationship quality with their teachers. Emerging evidence suggests that teachers who have higher emotional competence and use emotion-coaching behaviours are better positioned to avoid this troubling pattern. However, it is currently unclear clear which emotion-related characteristics are most important. The aim of this study was to identify how teachers’ meta-emotion philosophy (i.e., feelings, thoughts, and approaches to emotions) relates to their relationships with their least and most compliant student. Participants included 404 primary and secondary teachers in Australia. Using a latent profile analysis, I examined profiles of six teacher meta-emotion constructs: preferences for an emotion-coaching or emotion-dismissing approach, their emotion-coaching socialisation self-efficacy, and their self-reported emotional competence (i.e., emotional awareness, perspective taking, and habitual use of suppression). The relationships teachers shared with their most and least compliant student were compared across profiles. Findings revealed four distinct profiles of teachers’ meta-emotion philosophy: “Highly Attuned” (14%); “Unattuned” (18%), “Self-Attuned” (43%), and “Mixed Socialisation Approach” (25%). Teachers with above average emotional competence (i.e., Highly Attuned and Self-Attuned) reported higher closeness and lower conflict with their most compliant student than teachers in the Unattuned profile. However, only those teachers who reported an above average emotion-coaching approach in response to students’ anger (i.e., Highly Attuned and Mixed Socialisation Approach profiles) perceived closer relationships with their least compliant student than teachers in the Unattuned profile. The Highly Attuned profile also reported less conflict with their least compliant student than the Unattuned profile, revealing themselves as the only teachers to experience optimally positive relationships with both student types. Our study highlights the potential benefits of research and professional development considering teachers’ meta-emotion philosophy to promote relationship quality with different groups of students.