Research consistently shows that the learning environment plays an important role for early adolescents' learning and outcomes and suggests that good teacher-student relationships can serve as a protective factor for maintaining young adolescents' interest and active engagement in learning. However, less is known about the dynamic nature of teacher-student relationships and how they link with academic motivation development. Furthermore, little is known about the nature and the effects of teacher-student relationships in a cross-national context. The present study investigated changes in two components of teacher-student relationships (teachers' involvement vs. rejection) and examined links with students' academic motivation during the first grade of secondary school. Ten Dutch and ten Indonesian teachers (65 % female) from 24 classes were videoed 12 times across the school year, and four videos for each class were selected randomly and coded on teachers' involvement versus rejection. A total of 713 students (52 % girls) completed four-wave measures of their academic motivation after each video observation. Multilevel growth curve modeling revealed that the teacher's involvement changed in a curvilinear way and decreased across the first year of secondary education, while changes in the teacher's rejection did not follow a linear time function. Academic motivation changed in an undesirable way: controlled motivation increased, while autonomous motivation decreased over time. Teachers' involvement had a unique contribution in preventing high levels of controlled motivation in both countries. Findings suggest that teacher-student relationships (teachers' involvement) play an essential role in early adolescents' motivation regardless of the nations and should be a priority for schools.