Volume 31, Issue 2 (2002)
Teachers' Narratives About Their Relationships With Children: Associations With Behavior in Classrooms
Megan W. Stuhlman, Robert C. Pianta
Abstract. Teachers’ narratives concerning their relationships with children were elicited through semistructured interviews and examined in relation to teachers’characteristics and observations of teachers’ behavior with children in the classroom.Fifty teachers in kindergarten (N = 21) and first grade (N = 29) were interviewed about their relationships with a specific child and their classrooms were observed for one-half day. Interviews were coded for seven constructs reflective of different aspects of their relationship with that specific child, including compliance,achievement, secure base, neutralizing of negative emotion, positive affect,and negative affect. Teachers’ reports on the interview were significantly related to several aspects of observed child behavior toward them as well as observed teacher behavior toward the child. The feature of teachers’ responses to interview questions most frequently associated with classroom behavior was expressed negative emotion. Associations between mentioning compliance and expressing negative affect during the interview and observed behavior remained significant even after controlling for the child’s positive affect and self-reliance and teacher experience.Furthermore, among teachers with fewer years of experience, there was no relation between expressed negative emotion in relationship narratives and sensitivity in interactions with children. This was not the case for teachers with more experience. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of understanding salient elements of the relationship between teachers and students. Future directions(including the use of interviews about child-teacher relationships in consultation)are explored.
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