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1 - Examining Children’s Classroom Experiences in the Context of Teacher Mental Health and Access to Supports

Sat, March 23, 9:45 to 11:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 3, Room 330

Session Type: Paper Symposium

Integrative Statement

A recent survey of 30,000+ teachers noted that nearly three-quarters experienced their work as stressful (American Federation of Teachers, 2015). New work indicates that personal distress may be related to the quality of teachers’ practice and student outcomes (Arens & Morin, 2016; Hoglund, Klingle, & Hosan, 2015). Yet, there remain key questions about how teacher well-being plays out in relation to classroom interactions and student success. Specifically, the directionality of effects between teacher well-being and student-teacher relationships is unclear, as is our understanding of how existing teacher supports intersect with their mental health in contributing to optimal classroom experiences for children. This symposium brings together papers to address these gaps in the literature.

Paper 1 finds that teachers’ well-being (emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment) early in the year is unrelated to later student-teacher relationships; however, the reverse is true - early student-teacher closeness forecasts a greater sense of personal accomplishment, and student-teacher conflict is related to more emotional exhaustion later in the year. Paper 2 shows that participation in professional development focused on social-emotional learning serves as a buffer for the negative relation between teachers’ burnout and quality of classroom interactions throughout the year. Paper 3 finds that teacher depression contributes to a higher likelihood of preschool children being expelled, though this is mitigated when teachers use early childhood mental health consultation. A discussant with expertise in the role that teachers play in facilitating children’s development will lead a discussion of future research directions and practical implications of this work.

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