INVITED SYMPOSIA, KEYNOTES AND WORKSHOPS
Resilience in Development: Nurturing Roles of Families and Schools
Dr. Masten will highlight recent advances in research on resilience in human development, with a focus on the roles that parents and schools play in protecting children against adversity and nurturing resilience for their future. She will describe contemporary definitions of resilience that underscore multisystem processes and the importance of defining resilience for scalability across system levels (from individual levels to families, schools, and beyond) and also for portability across disciplines concerned with human well-being in diverse cultures. Resilience refers to the capacity of a system (a child, family, community, economy, or other dynamic system) to adapt successfully to challenges that threaten the function, survival, or development of the system. Resilience of individual young people depends on interactions among multiple systems, including relationships and social support, together with resources and opportunities. Dr. Masten will highlight advances in resilience science and the alignment of findings in research on resilience in children, families, and schools, with implications for practice. She will also discuss how resilience perspectives apply to global threats posed by the pandemic and other multisystem adversities of these turbulent times and close with comments on emerging directions for research and training to achieve a fully intenegrated understanding of resilience.
Ann S. Masten Ph.D. is Regents Professor of Child Development at the University of Minnesota in the Institute of Child Development. She completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College and doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota with an internship at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. She studies risk and resilience in human development, particularly in the context of poverty, homelessness, war, disaster, and migration. Dr. Masten is a past President of the Society for Research in Child Development and Division 7 (developmental) of the American Psychological Association (APA). She is a recipient of numerous awards, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, APA’s Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology, and the 2022 Mentor Award from Division 7. Dr. Masten has published more than 200 scholarly works, including the book, Ordinary Magic: Resilience in Development. She offers a free international MOOC (mass open online course) through Coursera on “Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War: Global Perspectives,” taken by thousands of participants from more than 180 countries.
Complex trauma in the school environment: A trauma-informed and mentalization-based perspective
Nicole Vliegen PhD
Children with complex trauma can be found in any school. The early adverse experiences these children have suffered are often not readily acknowledged, whereas their ‘difficult’ and ‘disturbing’ behavior poses a real challenge. These are the children who disengage in class, easily get into fights with peers or conflicts with teachers, or seem to ‘underperform inexplicably’. From a trauma-informed and mentalization-based perspective, we offer insights to understand the immense developmental impairments these children are struggling with, and the challenges this poses for school staff. We conclude this symposium with tools to create and support a constructive and viable school environment.
Presentation 1. Understanding the particular development of children with complex trauma
Prof. Dr. Eileen Tang
‘Complex trauma’ or ‘developmental trauma’ constitutes a particular type of traumatic experiences in early life, with a particularly detrimental impact across developing neurobiological systems. As a result, the child’s subsequent cognitive, emotional, relational and behavioral development may be severely compromised. A trauma-informed developmental psychopathology perspective can help to (better) understand where ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘disturbing’ behavior in class or in the playground comes from. It can help to understand why some children don’t seem to be able to develop age-appropriate skills to regulate their emotions and behavior, leading to frequent aggressive outbursts or running away; why some children don’t seem to be in touch with what is going on inside themselves, let alone be able to express this in constructive ways; why some children keep relating in ways that makes others feel uncomfortable, at best, and confused and prone to disengage, more often. We thus elaborate the impact of complex traumatic experiences on different developmental domains relevant to children’s functioning in class and the broader school context, scaffolding a trauma-informed understanding of concrete ‘intractable’ behaviors.
2. A trauma-informed and mentalization-based perspective on the particular challenges of children with complex trauma for the school context.
Drs. Simon Fiore
There is no doubt about the importance of the school environment being a growth-facilitating context for any school-aged child. However, for children who have experienced complex trauma – with their particular developmental impairments and resulting complex and often pervasive mental health needs – the school’s tasks becomes much more difficult. These are the children who often appeal to one-to-one attention and support, often at the most unpredictable and ‘inconvenient’ times, but even then remain harder to read and less able to benefit from the support offered. How, then, does one balance responding to this child’s needs with maintaining one’s focus on the task at hand (e.g., teaching geometry to a class of 25 pupils)? When the child is also experienced as making life harder for the teacher as well as for the peer group (e.g., by exhibiting disturbing behavior during class), it is only natural to feel that one’s resources are being depleted or exceeded. In this presentation, using mentalization-based principles, we elaborate how the particular developmental impairments of children with complex trauma pose particular challenges to a school’s ability to remain mindful in their approach and response to such children.
3. Creating and supporting schools as a ‘facilitating environment’ to work with children with complex trauma
Drs. Saskia Malcorps
In the final presentation, we build on our acquired understanding of how fundamentally different children with complex trauma are developing and how this poses real and specific challenges to teachers and other school staff, to translate these insights into applicable methods and tools. Inspired by mentalization-based approaches, we offer tools that may be helpful in one-to-one interactions with a child with complex trauma, as well as school-wide tools that may be worthwhile to implement in attempting to create and support a mentalizing school environment. We elaborate on ‘being a mentalizing school’, a school-wide approach in which children and teachers (a) speak ‘the same language’ when it comes to emotions, stress and getting overwhelmed, (b) find spaces to unwind and recharge, (c) are supported to regain their own mentalizing capacity when necessary. Furthermore, we focus on one-on-one contacts between a teacher and child, based on the CARE principle (being Curious, being Approachable, Referring when needed and being Empathic). Finally, we provide tools for mentalizing conversation techniques in contact with a child with complex trauma.
In search for self-care! Assessment and treatment of non-suicidal self-injury in adolescents.
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) refers to the direct and deliberate destruction of one’s own body tissue without suicidal intent. Examples of NSSI are scratching, burning, hitting, and burning oneself. NSSI is highly prevalent among adolescents and young adults and can be related to internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. NSSI often originates in adolescence and is highly related to identity development. To understand the dynamics of NSSI, we will discuss several explanation models of this behavior, based on intra- en interpersonal factors that trigger and maintain NSSI. Furthermore, we will focus on the assessment of NSSI, with special attention for particular characteristics of NSSI (e.g., frequency, severity, pain sensitivity) as well as its functions (functional analyses). Finally, we will focus on important interventions during the treatment of these adolescents, such as the therapeutic relationship, emotional regulation, cognitive restructuring and finding less-harmful alternative behaviors. Special attention will be given to ‘how to deal with the contagiousness of NSSI’ as well as NSSI programs that can be applied in school-context. Hopefully, in this way, we can help adolescents to increase their self-care.
1KU Leuven, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Leuven, Belgium
2University of Antwerp, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Antwerp, Belgium
Working with the Encounter: School-based Collaborative Mental Health Care for Refugee Children
L. De Haene, S. Verbiest & C. Spaas – KU Leuven
Scholars increasingly point towards schools as meaningful contexts in which to provide low-threshold, transcultural psychosocial care for refugee children. A particular practice of school-based care, school-based collaborative mental health care (SCC) involves the set-up of interdisciplinary care networks, in which specialized mental health care providers, school partners, relevant professional partners and refugee families engage in a joint assessment of child development, joint intervention planning and provision. Within a collaborative care network, collaboration focuses on understanding the newcomer child’s psychosocial and school-related functioning against the background of families’ migration histories, cultural identifications, and current stressors, while equally connecting to resources in the family. Refugee parents are actively involved in collaborative trajectories; cultural brokers are often key figures, enabling to include cultural meaning systems and practices in assessment and promoting coping strategies. A specific component of this collaborative practice is its case-based expertise-building in school actors.
Based on an ongoing implementation of SCC in schools in Leuven, Belgium, as well as an initial intervention description and exploration of its working mechanisms, we present SCC core processes and working mechanisms. This intervention and clinical case description provides the starting point for a clinical case discussion, in which the participant-group will be invited to act as participants in a collaborative network meeting. Throughout subsequent steps in case analysis and intervention planning, participants join as actors in a collaborative care trajectory and are invited to reflect on interactive dynamics during interdisciplinary, intercultural dialogue.
Throughout this workshop, participants develop an experiential understanding of collaborative practice, and acquire specific skills in contextualizing refugee child development within family relationships, migration histories and cultural meaning-making, in promoting dialogue and alignment with refugee parents, and in addressing trauma- and migration-related distress in interaction with refugee children.
School-wide emotional learning to promote mental wellbeing
Caroline Braet, Henk Weymeis and Elisa Boelens
This workshop aims to introduce participants to school-wide emotional learning to promote mental wellbeing at school. The combination of 2 scientifically based programs will be presented: Boost Camp & Time-In. Boost Camp focuses on teaching students between 10 and 14 years old (i.e., around the transition from primary to secondary school) adaptive emotion regulation as a stepping stone to improved emotional wellbeing, prosocial behavior and academic achievement. The program targets different emotion regulation skills (e.g., relaxation, emotional awareness, self-compassion, problem solving) in a specific order to successfully regulate all kinds of emotions. The second program, Time-In, focuses on important preconditions for successful and sustainable implementation of social and emotional learning in the classroom: (a) teacher’s personal emotional resilience and (b) developing an emotion charter supported by the school team. During this workshop a combination of theoretical background, exercises and group discussions will be used.
Dr. Henk Weymeis1, Elisa Boelens2, Prof. dr. Caroline Braet2.
1 Time-In, Emiel, Gentbrugge, Belgium.
2 Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Supporting school and educational communities during unsettling times: A multilevel approach of linking theory, research, training and practice
Chryse (Sissy) Hatzichristou
Over the last couple of decades, families and schools worldwide have been affected by numerous challenges associated with diverse negative consequences at various levels. Promotion of mental health and resilience is essential in order for school communities to effectively cope with adversity and can be achieved by concurrently addressing difficulties and enhancing strengths. A multilevel approach linking theory, research, training and practice for supporting school and educational communities during unsettling times, developed by the Laboratory of School Psychology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, will be presented. Selective interventions addressing several difficult events that affect school communities will be discussed, such as programs addressing issues related to the economic recession, natural disasters and most recently the COVID-10 pandemic. A holistic and continuous examination of needs, strengths and resources allows for evidence-based and theory-driven services to be tailored accordingly and thus to respond to local community needs in the aftermath of challenging periods. This multi-level approach, which is based on a conceptual framework, involves a series of actions, including research, in-service and academic training, development of resources, consultation, interventions and collaboration with schools and other agencies at a local, national and international level. The approach highlights further the important role of universities in bridging the gap between research, training, and practice in the field of school psychology, providing a transnational approach in supporting school and academic communities in the face of adversity.
Chryse (Sissy) Hatzichristou is professor of School Psychology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.
(Re)building resilience in schools: A challenging undertaking
Dr. Richta IJntema en dr. Hanneke Visser
We live in times of global crises: COVID, climate and war. Therefore, the question that many schools struggle with is how to (re)build resilience. This workshop offers direction by first addressing how resilience should be understood and secondly by discussing five different approaches to resilience-building. As a framework, the Psychological Immunity-Psychological Elasticity (PI-PE) model of resilience is used. This model is based on the most recent understanding of resilience as a dynamic process. We elaborate what this process entails and invite participants to reflect on this model using their own experiences. From the PI-PE model five different approaches to resilience-building have been derived: 1) tolerance-enhancement approach, 2) narrative approach, 3) measured approach, 4) personal resource-based approach, and 5) an environmental resource-based approach. We illustrate what each approach entails, to which purpose and how they are used. We argue that the first step in (re)building resilience in schools is to educate both teachers and students about this process. In addition, we argue why resilience building requires our continuous attention and effort. At the end of this workshop participants are better able to explain the dynamic process of resilience to others and have a better understanding of how they can influence this process in order to enhance resilience, either their own or someone else’s.
dr. Richta IJntema1, dr. Hanneke Visser2
1 Department of Social, Health and Organisational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
2 RINO amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Teacher Emotions: Their links with instructional behavior, student experiences, and relational classroom atmosphere
Prof. Dr. Anne Frenzel
This symposium contains three presentations featuring teacher emotions. Paper 1 presents data from two studies on cross-sectional and longitudinal links between teacher emotions and their instructional behavior. Paper 2 explores links between teachers’ and students’ momentary levels of enthusiasm using ESM, proposing that enthusiasm should be contagious between teachers and learners. Paper 3 shows that teachers’ emotions and their relationships with students are reciprocally linked over the course of a schoolyear. Overall the three studies emphasize that teachers’ emotions are part of the system that influences and is influenced by instructional processes, with positive emotions boosting classroom functioning.
1. Teacher Emotions and Teaching Quality: A Two-Study Investigation
Prof. Dr. Irena Buric
Teachers’ emotions are part of the system that influences and is influenced by classroom processes such as teaching behavior and student outcomes. On the one hand, emotions affect teachers’ performance by shaping their cognitive and self-regulatory processes. On the other hand, teaching behaviors and ways of delivering instruction fuel the emotions teachers experience while teaching and interacting with students. Even though empirical evidence on implications of emotions for teaching is rapidly growing, previous research has been often burdened with limitations (e.g., single source bias, cross-sectional design, small samples, limited range of emotions considered). Thus, in the present research, we tried to overcome these shortcomings by conducting two studies.
Study 1 had a cross-sectional design and included data from 1042 Croatian teachers and 16312 of their students. It showed that higher students’ ratings of teaching quality dimensions (i.e., classroom management, cognitive activation, and supportive climate) were positively related to teacher joy, pride, and love, and negatively related to teacher anger, hopelessness, and exhaustion. Study 2 was longitudinal and involved 93 German math teachers and 1442 of their students. Results showed that teacher joy and anger at the beginning of the schoolyear predicted student-reported teachers withitness, caring, and cognitive activation at midterm. Moreover, students’ ratings of teaching quality, in turn, predicted joy and anger at the end of the schoolyear. Effects for teacher anxiety were not significant. We conclude that feeling good leads to good teaching, but also that well-functioning instruction makes teachers feel good.
2. Emotional crossover between teachers and students: the contagiousness of enthusiasm in the classroom
Students’ enthusiasm at school constitutes an important facet of their school engagement, which has consistently been related to higher academic achievement and better socio-emotional adjustment. According to crossover theory (Härtel & Page, 2009) and empirical findings on emotional crossover processes in academic settings, students’ emotional experiences in class including their enthusiasm are elicited directly or indirectly from the emotions of others in the same classroom environment. As such, teachers’ enthusiasm in class is likely to be transmitted to students and may therefore contribute to students’ enthusiasm and engagement at school. However, previous studies have not yet examined how momentary levels of students’ and teachers’ enthusiasm are interrelated in real-life classes, and teachers’ emotional experiences in class were measured almost exclusively by student report. To address these gaps, we examined whether crossover effects between teachers’ and students’ enthusiasm can be observed on a moment-to-moment level in naturally occurring classroom settings. To this aim, an experience sampling study was conducted, in which both teachers and students reported on their momentary levels of enthusiasm twice during mathematics, Dutch, and history classes for a two-week period. First findings will be presented at the ISPA conference. By considering relations between teachers’ and students’ enthusiasm in real-life classroom settings, the present examination sheds light on the importance of promoting positive emotions in teachers, which not only contributes to teachers’ overall psychological well-being, but may also hold promise for enhancing students’ emotional and social functioning, engagement and achievement in school.
3. I feel, therefore I relate – and vice versa: Reciprocal links between teachers’ emotions and the teacher-class-relationship quality
Prof. Dr. Anne Frenzel
The present research proposed that the relational and emotional atmosphere in classes are tightly linked. Thus we expected that teachers should emotionally profit if they perceive the relational atmosphere in classes as positive, but their emotions should also shape how well they succeed at building relationships with their students. Drawing on data from 93 teachers (58% female) who participated in a longitudinal 3-wave repeated measures design, we specified three separate cross-lagged models linking teacher self-reports of the teacher-class relationship quality, on the one hand, and their enjoyment, anger, and anxiety, on the other. Results showed that teachers’ perceived relationship quality in class at the beginning of the school year (T1) was positively related to teacher enjoyment at mid-term (T2) and negatively related to teachers’ experience of anxiety at T2. Further, teacher-reported relationship quality at T2 was positively related to teachers’ enjoyment towards the end of the school year (T3) and negatively related to the experience of teacher anger at T3. With the exception of higher levels of teacher enjoyment at T2 being related to higher levels of teacher-class relationship at T3, the order of effects from emotions to relationship quality was not supported. As such, our reciprocity assumption was only partly supported, as the order of effects from teacher appraisals to emotions seemed to be dominating. This research is unique in providing longitudinal evidence that teachers’ emotions are shaped by their perception of the teacher-class relationship. We conclude that interventions targeting teacher-class relationship quality seem promising to boost teacher well-being.
Improving primary school children’s wellbeing through teacher-student interactions.
This symposium presents three approaches that intent to improve primary school children’s well-being via teacher-student interaction. The first study concerns research that used active perspective taking of teachers as an intervention to improve teacher responsiveness in the face of disruptive child behaviour. The second contribution investigated how children’s’ drawings can serve as a pathway to uncovering children’s representations of their (problematic) interactions with their teacher, as a component of teacher-student relationship interventions. Lastly, results are presented form a pre-/post test intervention that used teacher-student interaction assignments for teachers to improve a neglected child’s social inclusion in the classroom group.
1. Through the students’ eyes: Perspective taking when facing problematic student behavior.
Dr. Fanny Swart
Teachers often feel incompetent when dealing with aggressive, hyperactive, or anxious children in class. During daily interactions teachers tend to deal with such behavior based on implicit internal representations of a child. These representations, however, are prone to various biases, which potentially reduce teachers’ responsiveness. This could then further increase behavioral problems, reduce the quality of teacher-child relationships, and heighten teachers’ emotional exhaustion (Chang & Davis, 2009; Spilt et al., 2012). Building teachers’ perspective taking skills promises to increase teachers’ use of responsive strategies and teacher efficacy (Brinkworth & Gehlbach, 2015). Perspective taking reflects explicitly trying to understand a child’s feelings, thoughts, motivations, and intentions in a given situation. We randomly assigned teachers to an experimental condition (N=29) in which they described a specific, real classroom situation from the child’s perspective (first person) or a control condition (N=45) where teachers used only their own perspective. Perspective taking and attribution of explanations were coded. In the experimental group more different aspects of the child’s perspective were reported (p = .001), and explanations for child behavior were attributed more often to the teacher’s behavior (p = .037). Based on these findings and following a perspective taking intervention from Gehlbach, we constructed a guided perspective taking intervention for teachers, consisting of a stepwise reflective process, in which a real situation is described from the child’s perspective, diverse contextual explanations for behavior are considered, and ways to check these explanations in class are planned. Initial findings of this ongoing project will be presented.
2. Student–Teacher Relationship Drawings: A Practical Tool for Understanding Students’ Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors Toward their Teachers.
Rationale: Children’s drawings have long been used as a non-intrusive tool to investigate children’s internal world and mental representations of relationships with significant others, including parents, family members and, more recently, teachers (Goldner & Scharf, 2010; McGrath et al., 2017). Despite their strong clinical and theoretical base, however, there is a lack of evidence for the reliability, validity, and practical applicability of such drawings in educational settings. This study explored the psychometric properties and applicability of student–teacher relationship drawings (STRDs), using an attachment-based coding system.
Methodology and Findings: Interrater reliability, validity, and practical applicability of STRDs was investigated in three independent samples of elementary students. Results from sample 1 (Nstudents = 789; Nteachers = 35) indicated good interrater reliability of eight attachment-based STRD-dimensions at the student-level (ICCrange = .75–.87), but not the classroom-level (ICCrange = .35–.96). Additionally, samples 1 and 2 (Nstudents = 838; Nteachers = 62) both provided evidence for a one-factor model reflecting overall relationship quality. Further validity evidence in these samples was established by small to moderate correlations with student-reported and teacher-reported student–teacher relationship quality and student-reported engagement. Last, qualitative findings from sample 3 (Nteachers = 40; Nstudents = 200) suggested that STRDs helped teachers to gain more insight into students’ thoughts and emotions toward them as well as teachers’ own classroom behaviors.
Implications: Results across three samples suggest that STRDs are a sufficiently valid and reliable tool to assist teachers in understanding students’ mental relationship representations and building high-quality relationships with them.
3. Improving elementary students’ social inclusion: Effects of a teacher intervention based on social referencing.
Social exclusion or rejection by classmates affects a child’s social (Ladd, 2006) and academic development (Kindermann, 2007). According to social referencing theory, teachers have unique opportunities to influence classroom peer relations, through their daily interaction with a child (Hughes et al., 20140. Particularly negative teacher-student interactions can harm students’ social status, because they predict more negative peer perceptions of the teacher-student relationship, which in turn predicts peer disliking (Hendrickx et al., 2017). Hence, teacher-focused interventions could be helpful to change teachers’ behavior with students in the social margin of the classroom, by fostering more frequent or more positive teacher-student interactions (Farmer et al., 2011). In a sample of 57 classrooms (of which 25 belonged to the intervention group) we examined with a pre/post/ and retention test design to what extent a teacher intervention (investing in more frequent and more positive interaction) affected peer perceived teacher-student relationships, and target children’s’ peer liking and social status (N target students = 56; N peers = 649). Based on multilevel growth models we conclude that in targeted classrooms the overall quality of peer networks improved. Target students (i.e., students with low initial friendship and liking ties, to whom the teacher paid extra attention) received somewhat more liking, however not more friendship ties after the intervention. These findings suggest that a relatively simple intervention focusing on more positive and for peers visible classroom interaction has the potential to positively affect classrooms as a whole, but seems to have only limited effects for neglected children.
Strong teacher-child relationships: For the benefit of both children’s and teachers’ well-being
Jantine L. Spilt
As today’s student population becomes more and more diverse, the challenges for teachers to build strong relationships with each and every student in their classroom also increase. We know well the consequences for students’ development and learning when students’ need for caring relationships with teachers becomes thwarted. However, less is known about the consequences of strained relationships for teachers. Emerging research suggests that emotional experiences of helplessness, inefficacy, or suppressed anger in dyadic teacher-child relationships could threaten teachers’ emotional stability in the classroom and seriously impact teachers’ well-being. As the quality of teacher-student relationships rests on the well-being of teachers, I will argue that caring for teacher-student relationships implies caring for teachers. This caring for teachers requires a deep understanding of the cognitive-emotional processes in dyadic teacher-student relationships. To support this caring for teachers in practice, I will present examples from dyad-focused intervention research showing how we can become “critical friends” to teachers, encouraging and supporting teachers in building, restoring, and maintaining caring relationships with all students in their class.
1 KU Leuven, School Psychology and Development in Context