Classroom climate, especially emotional support in the classroom, shapes children’s academic performance and socioemotional adjustment. This study focused on special education classrooms and examined two factors that may be associated with emotional support in the classroom, teachers’ attachment style and teachers’ perception of their teaching experiences as reflected in their narratives.
Data were gathered from 40 special education elementary school classrooms and their teachers. Emotional support, in terms of positive climate, negative climate, teacher sensitivity and regard for students’ perspective, was assessed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System – K-3. Teachers completed the Experience in Close Relationships Scale to evaluate their avoidant and anxious attachment styles. Teachers’ narratives on their teaching experiences were elicited using the Five-Minute Speech Sample procedure. FMSSs were coded for complexity and negative valence.
Avoidance and lower complexity and negative valence of teachers’ narratives were associated with lower positive climate in their classrooms. In addition, avoidance and negative valence of teachers’ narratives were related to lower teacher sensitivity, and negative valence of the narratives was associated with lower regard for students’ perspective.
Teachers’ attachment style and their perception of their teaching experiences may be important targets for future research to refine the understanding of the quality of teacher-student interactions and inform teachers’ training and supervision programs.