Students who do not get along with their peers are at elevated risk for academic disengagement and school failure. Research has predominantly focused on factors within such children that contribute to their peer problems. This study considers whether teacher practices also predict social preference for children in that classroom. Participants were 26 elementary school teachers and 490 students in their classrooms followed for one school year. Results suggested that teachers who favored the most academically talented students in the fall had classrooms where children had lower average social preference in the spring after statistical control of children's fall social preference and externalizing behavior problems. Teachers who demonstrated emotionally supportive relationships with students in the fall had classrooms where children had greater possibility of changing their social preference from fall to spring. Although children with high externalizing behaviors tended to experience declining social preference over the course of the school year, teachers' learner-centered practices attenuated this progression. However, teachers' favoring of the most academically talented accentuated the negative relation between externalizing behaviors and social preference. Implications for school psychology practitioners are discussed.
Copyright © 2011 Society for the Study of School Psychology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.