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Study: Teacher PD Needs More on Emotions

A new study out of the University of Illinois suggests that teachers may not always be well-equipped to respond effectively to students' emotional outbursts, according to a report on Psychcentral.com.

For the study, researchers collected self-assessments from 24 student-teachers relating to their own emotion-regulation tendencies and their beliefs about students' emotional lives. The student-teachers were then periodically monitored in their classroom interactions with children.

The study found that the student-teachers who had reported more developed strategies for mananging the own emotions—through situational "reappraisal," for example—provided more supportive responses to children's emotional flare-ups. Also beneficial was holding more "accepting beliefs" towards children's emotional needs.

The results suggest that some teachers may need additional training or professional development in "emotion-related regulation and cognition," according to the study, which was published in Early Education and Development.

"When teachers aren't trained to respond to emotional outbursts in supportive ways, they often fall back on responses that reflect the way they were raised and whether they feel comfortable with their own emotions," said Rebecca Swartz, the study's lead author.

In the study, according to Psychcentral, the most common type of unsupportive response by the student-teachers to children's emotional displays was simply non-response or denial. It's essential, Swartz says, for teachers to start by acknowledging or labeling a child's emotion to help him or her learn to recognize and understand it.

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