The role of teachers' self-efficacy beliefs in the development of teacher-student relationships.
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Prior literature has suggested that teachers who are confident in their abilities to teach, assess, and manage classroom behavior may be more likely to engage in practices that lead to supportive and secure relationships with students. The current study investigated the trajectories of teacher-student relationships, examining the extent that teacher self-efficacy beliefs predicted ratings of conflict and closeness for 885 students from second to sixth grade. The trends of teacher-student closeness and conflict were modeled using a parallel curve of factors approach, controlling for student demographics and teacher-student racial and gender alignment prior to examining the extent that teacher self-efficacy beliefs influenced closeness and conflict across grades. Results from the parallel trajectories suggested that teacher-student conflict was stable from second to sixth grade, whereas teacher-student closeness demonstrated a declining curvilinear trend. The relationship between teacher-student conflict and closeness suggests that students with relatively high levels of conflict in second grade were likely to exhibit sharper declines in closeness over time. Across grades, teachers rated closer and less conflictual relationships with females but after controlling for gender and race (=0.083-0.328 for closeness; =-0.118 to -0.238 for conflict), teacher-student racial and gender alignment associations with teacher-student relationship quality were less consistent. Teachers who reported higher self-efficacy beliefs were more likely to report higher ratings of closeness and lower ratings of conflict with students across all grades (=0.195-0.280 for closeness; =-0.053 to -0.097 for conflict). These findings contribute to the literature regarding the role of teacher self-efficacy in teacher-student relationships. We discuss how teacher self-efficacy beliefs can be developed and leveraged to improve relationship quality in the classroom from a social cognitive perspective.