Teacher Wellbeing: The Importance of Teacher–Student Relationships

J.L. Spilt, H.M.Y. Koomen, J.T. Thijs

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Many studies have examined the importance of teacher-student relationships for the development of children. Much less is known, however, about how these relationships impact the professional and personal lives of teachers. This review considers the importance of teacher-student relationships for the wellbeing of teachers starting from the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping of Lazarus (1991). Based on theories on interpersonal relationships, it is postulated that teachers have a basic need for relatedness with the students in their class. It is discussed that teachers internalize experiences with students in representational models of relationships that guide emotional responses in daily interactions with students and change teacher wellbeing in the long run. In addition, the notion of mental representations of relationships at different levels of generalization could offer a window to understand how individual teacher-student relationships may affect the professional and personal self-esteem of teachers. Lastly, it is argued that the influence of student misbehavior on teacher stress may be more fully understood from a relationship perspective. The review shows that few studies have directly tested these propositions and offers suggestions for future research. © 2011 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-477
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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