Insider views of the emotional climate of the classroom: What New Zealand children tell us about their teachers' feelings

  • Andersen R
  • Evans I
  • Harvey S
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Abstract

To explore children's perceptions of their teachers' feelings in everyday classroom contexts, the authors conducted focus groups with New Zealand primary (elementary) school children to discuss what they observed about positive classroom teachers' interactional style and emotional behavior. Seventy-nine students between age 8 and 12 years, from low- and high-socioeconomic communities, were divided into small focus groups to answer questions about their school experiences using a novel game-like procedure to foster open communication. Verbatim statements from the children were recorded and organized into major topics using thematic analysis. Age-related developmental differences were noted in the children's ability to recognize teachers' feelings. In general, however, the level of insight that children revealed about their teachers showed considerable emotional competence. Students were acute observers of teachers' feelings as reflected in their teaching style, how they maintained discipline, their relationships with the children, and their overall emotional responsiveness. The authors concluded that emotion permeates all aspects of teaching practice and emerges from the relationship between teachers and members of the class. When positive, this relationship is one of mutual positive respect and enjoyment. (Contains 1 figure.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • classroom climate
  • elementary school
  • teacher emotions
  • teacher-student relationships

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Authors

  • Rachel J. Andersen

  • Ian M. Evans

  • Shane T. Harvey

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