student emotions

Teacher training does wonders for students’ emotional regulation

A new university study confirms that teachers who are trained on pro-social classroom behavior can help students manage their emotions

When teachers participated in a training program focused on pro-social classroom behavior, their students became more socially competent and better able to regulate their emotions than students in classrooms without trained teachers, according to new research from the University of Missouri (MU).

Past research shows that students who are able to regulate their emotions are more likely to be academically successful.

Wendy Reinke and Keith Herman, professors in MU’s College of Education, studied more than 100 teachers and 1,817 students from kindergarten to third grade to see if teachers could support students’ emotional and behavioral growth through the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Program.

The program uses videos and training sessions, along with role-playing and coaching, to help teachers learn proactive management strategies such as using behavior-specific praise, building positive relationships with students and considering proximity to reduce disruptive behavior. The study found that teachers in the training group increased their positive interactions with students by 64 percent versus 53 percent for teachers in the control group without the training.

“Emotional regulation is the ability to recognize what behavior is appropriate in the current situation,” Reinke says. “For example, a student might have difficulties controlling feelings of anger if he or she gets frustrated with another student. But under this program, the teacher might encourage them to move to a different spot in the classroom, effectively teaching them that sometimes stepping away and taking a breather is a good way to calm down and manage those feelings.”

After one school year of implementing the program in classrooms, students improved their social abilities and ability to regulate their emotions. These improvements resulted in an increase in student competence from the 50th to the 56th percentile for students in Incredible Years classrooms versus students in control classrooms.

“It shows that this classroom management approach can help mitigate risk for struggling learners early on, which could help prevent more intensive support needs in a child’s future,” Reinke says.

Reinke suggests that teachers or parents wishing to learn more about the Incredible Years program look into future training sessions to attend on the Incredible Year’s website here, or look for similar programs in their area. Reinke also created a classroom check-up resource for teachers that can be found here.

“The Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Program: Outcomes from a Group Randomized Trial,” was published in Prevention Science. The study’s co-author is Nianbo Dong, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (R305A100342).

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