In an article published in School Psychology, Mylien Duong and colleagues examine how important the pupil-teacher relationship is for pupil engagement and behaviour.
The study examines the effects of the Establish-Maintain-Restore (EMR) approach – a professional development programme for middle school teachers aimed at enhancing their skills in building relationships with pupils. In this randomised controlled trial, 20 teachers and 190 pupils from a US middle school (Years 7–9) in the Pacific Northwest region were assigned to either EMR or control conditions. Teachers in the EMR condition received three hours of training and ongoing implementation support. Control teachers were given the same amount of professional development time.
Observers rated academically engaged time and disruptive behaviour. Teachers reported on relationship quality using a modified version of the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale, which used only the five items deemed most relevant for EMR of the 28 items usually measured. The results showed that pupils of EMR-trained teachers had improved behaviour in the classroom (effect size = +1.07). EMR also resulted in improvements in pupil-teacher relationships (effect size = +0.61) and academically engaged time – instances when a pupil was paying attention to the teacher or working on a lesson task (effect size = +0.81).
While these findings are promising, it is important to note that the study included only teachers and pupils from one middle school, so replication with larger samples is needed before conclusions about effectiveness can be drawn.
Source: Brief teacher training improves student behavior and student-teacher relationships in middle school (March 2019), School Psychology, Vol 14, 2