Teacher wellbeing as the predictor of teacherstudent interpersonal relationships in EFL classrooms

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Bilkent University
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This study aimed to explore the impacts of teacher wellbeing on teacherstudent relationships. In this respect, the study investigated how the wellbeing of Turkish teachers is reflected in their verbal immediacy behavior while interacting with learners and the classroom climate in relation to the verbal immediacy in tertiary level language classrooms in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) setting. Five themes were focused on in terms teacher verbal immediacy behavior: sharing personal examples and experiences, asking questions, use of humor, praise, and criticism. The researcher collected data through a questionnaire, classroom observation, interviews, and an inventory. Teacher Wellbeing Questionnaire adapted from Collie, Shapka, Perry & Martin (2015) was conducted with 43 teachers and the researcher selected four teachers who scored highest and four teachers who scored lowest to observe their lessons. A Verbal Immediacy Framework was developed based on Gorham‘s (1988) Verbal Immediacy Items to be used during observation. After the observations, the students of eight participant teachers were asked to complete a Classroom Climate Inventory (CCI) adapted from Fraser, Treagust, and Dennis (1986) and Mcber (2000). Finally, follow-up interviews were conducted with the eight participant teachers in order to supplement the data gathered from the classroom observations and CCI. Data obtained through three instruments were triangulated. The qualitative data collected from classroom observations and interviews were analyzed according to Braun and Clarke‘s (2006) thematic analysis whereas the data coming from CCI were analyzed quantitatively using SPSS. The findings revealed differences between two groups of teachers in three of the pre-determined aspects of verbal immediacy and classroom climate. The data analysis indicated that teachers who are at a more positive wellbeing level tend to use more personal examples and experiences, use more humor, and praise their students more frequently while interacting with their students in the classroom compared to those with negative wellbeing. However, there was no significant difference between the numbers and types of the open questions asked by the two groups of teachers and the criticism used by participants. These findings helped draw the conclusion that teacher wellbeing has a role in establishing immediacy, which leads to a positive or negative influence on interpersonal relationships between teachers and students as well as the classroom climate. Therefore, the study implied that the wellbeing of language teachers can be considered as the predictor of interpersonal relationships between teachers and language learners in EFL classrooms.

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Teacher Wellbeing, Teacher Verbal Immediacy, Classroom Climate, Teacher-Student Interpersonal Relationships
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