The Prosocial Classroom: Teacher Social and Emotional Competence in Relation to Student and Classroom Outcomes

Mar. 29, 2009

Source: Review of Educational Research. Volume 79, Issue 1; p. 491- 525, (March 2009).

The authors describe a model of the prosocial classroom.
This model highlights the importance of teachers' social and emotional competence (SEC) and well-being in the development and maintenance of supportive teacher-student relationships, effective classroom management, and successful social and emotional learning program implementation.

The Prosocial Classroom Model

First, the authors view teacher SEC as an important contributor to the development of supportive teacher-student relationships.
A teacher who recognizes an individual student's emotions, understands the cognitive appraisals that may be associated with these emotions, and how these cognitions and emotions motivate the student's behavior can effectively respond to the student's individual needs.
Second, teachers higher in SEC are likely to demonstrate more effective classroom management; they are likely to be more proactive, skillfully using their emotional expressions and verbal support to promote enthusiasm and enjoyment of learning and to guide and manage student behaviors.

Their SEC also supports more effective classroom management by understanding the dynamics of classroom conflict situations.
Third, the authors propose that teachers with higher SEC will implement social and emotional curriculum more effectively because they are outstanding role models of desired social and emotional behavior.
Their social and emotional understanding supports their ability to apply extensive process-based activities in everyday situations as they naturally occur in the classroom.

 In addition, the authors conceptualize a transactional relationship between these three aspects of the model and the outcome of a healthy classroom climate.

In turn, a healthy classroom climate directly contributes to students' social, emotional, and academic outcomes.
Improvements in classroom climate may reinforce a teacher's enjoyment of teaching, efficacy, and commitment to the profession, thereby creating a positive feedback loop that may prevent teacher burnout.

Finally, the authors recognize that various contextual factors, inside and outside the school building, may influence teachers' SEC.
These factors include coteacher support, principal and district leadership, school climate and norms, school district values and in-service opportunities, community culture, and local and federal education policy and demands.
A teacher's overall well-being and efficacy as well as factors such as friendships, marital relations, and degrees of life stress in a teacher's personal life might also affect the performance of social and emotional abilities in the classroom.

The model proposes that these three factors - teacher-student relationships, effective classroom management, and successful social and emotional learning program implementation - contribute to creating a classroom climate that is more conducive to learning and that promotes positive developmental outcomes among students.

Furthermore, this article reviews current research suggesting a relationship between SEC and teacher burnout and reviews intervention efforts to support teachers' SEC through stress reduction and mindfulness programs.
Finally, the authors propose a research agenda to address the potential efficacy of intervention strategies designed to promote teacher SEC and improved learning outcomes for students.

Updated: May. 21, 2009