Academic success is one of the main targets – if not the main one – a teacher has in mind when engaging his/her students. Teachers want their students to do great, to achieve excellence. It is certainly something not easy to attain, and in many instances, it drives teachers into states of frustration, resignation, and despair. Some shield themselves by avoiding building relationships, some do just the opposite. What are the results? This research will contribute to the improvement of academic success based on how teacher-student relationships are approached. Ultimately, it will serve to equip teachers, such as myself, with valuable knowledge and strategies; which in turn will be used to drive up the academic success of middle and high school students.
Daviss Article Review
Supporting students-teachers relationships play a vital developmental role during the transition both to and through middle school. During the 1983-2003 years, considerable research on the effect of relationships between teachers and students on classroom learning experience and the quality of motivation was conducted (Davis, 2003). Teachers operate as socializing agents and affect students intellectual and social experiences through their capability of instilling values in children. According to Davis (2003), her central thesis is as follows: “across studies of student–teacher interaction we find three dominant approaches to studying relationships between students and teachers. Specifically, these approaches include student–teacher relationships from attachment perspectives, motivation perspectives, and sociocultural perspectives. It is important to note that these ways of thinking about the nature and impact of student–teacher relationships share a great deal of conceptual overlap and should not be considered mutually exclusive” (p. 208). Hence, middle-grade teachers face unique challenges through the development of early adolescents.
Each perspective urges researchers to consider important questions which need to be addressed conceptually, theoretically, and developmentally in future examinations of relationships between teachers and students. There is strong evidence that teacher-children relationships affect cognitive and social outcomes from preschool age to childhood and adolescence. Attachment perspectives findings are likely to be influenced by the students beliefs about themselves, teachers, and adults and the nature of their interaction. In turn, these beliefs influence the students point of view regarding their social and academic competence, the formation of their values, and, finally, their pursuit of social and academic goals in the classroom.
The motivation perspectives studies insist on the influence of teachers interpersonal skills, motivations attempt to socialize the learning motivation and instructional practices on the quality of students teachers relationships. The results of social-cultural perspectives researches indicate that the quality of student-teacher relationships is likely to be the reflection of the interpersonal schools and classrooms culture. One of the most striking findings in terms of influence and development of relationships between teachers and students is the importance of teachers’ ability to support the students autonomy.
An attachment perspective supposes that childrens relational styles and schemes are as vital to relationship quality as the way teacher responds to childrens requirements in the classroom. Understanding a childs model of child-adult relational schemes and relationships, including concepts of conflict, dependency, and closeness is very important. The same importance lies in the emotional quality of interaction between children and adults and the responsiveness of the last to childrens needs in terms of its consistency and frequency.
From the point of view of motivation perspectives, teacher-student relationships are characterized as becoming increasingly integrated with the educational scope. It is noteworthy that motivation researchers are normally more concerned with the teachers role of efficient instructors and less concerned about the ones as the childrens nurturers (Davis, 2003). Hence, positive relationships with a teacher reflect relationships supported by learning and motivation in the classroom.
Sociocultural perspectives of teacher-student relationships include social and ecological constructivist. They challenge the researchers to examine the specific constructions of the children’s interpersonal relationships nature at each of their developmental stages. The established teachers sociocultural beliefs influence their ability to connect with their students. For instance, the belief about the nature of the social needs of children guides teachers style of interaction with children and their curricular decisions. It is noteworthy that a sociocultural approach is in a specific sense endorsed to motivation or attachment perspective of teacher-student relationships. This approach simply recognizes that individual units are tied with their school and classroom contexts.
A vast majority of students consider early adolescence to be a time of transition and change. According to Davis (2006), researchers “argued that the transition to and through middle school is particularly difficult and results in changes in students’ academic motivations and performance.” In terms of social adjustment and interpersonal relationships, the above-mentioned changes reflect an increase in emotional and psychological independence from adults and a relevant dependence on relationships with their peers. Wentzel (1998) argues that “general developmental challenge is a transition to a new school environment, which tends to be marked by adolescents’ perceptions that teachers no longer care about them, and decreased opportunities to establish meaningful relationships with peers” (p. 202). Hence, young adolescents often have to negotiate and build relationships with peers and adults under not optimal conditions.
In terms of the classroom system, the emerging student-teacher relationships might reflect students endeavors to build alternative relationships with school, their peers, or additional adults present in the classroom such as aides. Students persecuting peer goals are eager to satisfy their desires of gaining approval and suit the established peer norms, or enhance their self-esteem through social comparison.
Davis (2003) claims that “from this perspective, students’ abilities to coordinate or to find ways to concurrently pursue, intellectual and peer goals in the class may influence the overall quality of their relationships with teachers” (p. 218). Hence, the student-teacher dyads quality depends on the extent to which teacher and academic norms mismatch or match peer norms.
The perception of teachers’ commitment by at-risk students influences their academic behavior. McHugh et al., (2012) state that “vulnerable youth, both those disadvantaged due to historical (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities) and socioeconomic (e.g., those from low income, low parental education households) factors, face a number of economic and sociopolitical risk factors, such as underfunded schools and the exclusion of their families from decision-making processes related to educational quality” (p. 2). Eventually, these risks may result in an increased risk of dropping out and the decrease in academic achievements. Moreover, “the discrepancy between student preferences and teacher perceptions of student preferences may be creating an atmosphere in the classroom which is not optimally conducive to learning” (Dorhout, 1983, p. 124). In terms of high school, dropping out should be theoretically understood as a process but not a discrete event.
Teachers should take into account the students vulnerability to their opinions. This vulnerability is especially high if a student is on the passing margin. In such terms, the students future in school might be substantially influenced by the teachers advocacy. Muller (2001) argues that “teachers may be acting as gatekeepers of knowledge for at-risk students in a way that is associated with students’ perceptions that teachers care. For at-risk students, perceptions that teachers care may be an action of access to learning” (p. 252). Being at risk of passing from high school, a student might perceive the teachers behavior supporting the access to instruction as caring.
Additionally, SNS might be considered a factor that heavily affects student-teacher relationships. SNS are referred to as online platforms that share their users ability to construct a semi-public or public profile and establish an inner personal connections network along with other common characteristics. In turn, “SNS, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+, Orkut, to name just a few of the most popular ones, have become the most popular websites on the internet and have been adopted by many teenagers worldwide” (Hershkovitz & Forkosh-Barukh, 2013, p. 34). The educational usage of SNS is massively discussed in terms of the web-based learning communities, suggesting both strengths and weaknesses, advantages and challenges. According to Hershkovitz and Forkosh-Barukh (2013), “SNS can topple traditional classroom hierarchy and empower students as well as teachers.” (p. 35). Hershkovitz and Forkosh-Barukh (2013) insist that “supportive and positive teacher-student relationships predict positive educational outcomes among lower secondary and high school students” (p. 36). Different studies, including the technology-related ones, revealed that teachers prefer students demonstrating positive attitudes as opposed to negative ones.
The teacher-student relationship, receiving and giving care, should be considered a continuous one, involving personal and intimate understanding and lasting over time. Practicing pedagogical nurturing at each lesson is inherent to efficient teachers. According to Thompson et al., (2004), “a teacher who is excited about the subject being taught and shows it by facial expression, voice inflection, gesture, and general movement is more likely to hold the attention of students than one who does not exhibit these behaviors” (p. 3). Therefore, an educator should be always responsive to the feelings and needs of his or her students.
The above-mentioned research aims to investigate the interconnection and interrelation between supportive teachers students relationships and the improvement of the learning process. A specific concern is that teenagers which do not enjoy supportive and positive relationships with peers and adults are at risk for academic issues. Teachers establishing good relationships with their students provide them with an opportunity to feel engaged and motivated in their learning process. Hence, a good teacher is able to turn the passive learners into actively engaged students.
Davis, H. A. (2003). Conceptualizing the role and influence of student-teacher relationships on children’s social and cognitive development. Educational Psychologist, 38(4), 207–234.
Davis, H. A. (2006). Exploring the contexts of relationship quality between middle school students and teachers. The Elementary School Journal, 106(3), 193-223.
Dorhout, A. (1983). Student and teacher perceptions of preferred teacher behaviors among the academically gifted. Gifted Child Quarterly, 27(3), 122-125.
Hershkovitz, A., & Forkosh-Barukh, A. (2013). Student-teacher relationship in the Facebook era: the student perspective. Int. J. Cont. Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 23(1), 33-52.
McHugh, R. M., Horner, C. G., Colditz, J. B., & Wallace, T. L. (2012). Bridges and barriers: adolescent perceptions of student–teacher relationships. Urban Education, 20(10), 1–35.
Muller, C. (2001). The role of caring in the teacher-student relationship for at-risk students. Sociological Inquirv, 71(2), 241-55.
Thompson, S., Greer, J. G., & Greer, B. B. (2004). Highly qualified for successful teaching: Characteristics every teacher should possess. Essays in Education, 10(5), 1-9. Web.
Wentzel, K. R. (1998). Social relationships and motivation in middle school: the role of parents, teachers, and peers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2), 202-209.
The following are questions concerning your general beliefs about the appropriate role of teachers-students relationships.
|Section 1||Strongly Agree||Agree||Neutral||Disagree||Strongly Disagree|
|a. Establishing relationships between students and teachers is equivalent to a profound education.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|b. A teacher’s interest in students exceeding the activities during grade card time makes the students more apt to do their best within the class.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|c. Children from poverty are likely to attend school for socialization rather than to get an education.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|d. The children’s sense of adoption and trust in the sincere interest and care of their teachers |
generally make them eager to try harder with that teacher.
|e. Age is not determining teachers success rates in building relationships with their students and reducing disruptions in the classroom.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|f. Teachers mostly burn out due to the significant stressor of student misbehavior.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|g. Negative student-teacher relationship adversely influences classroom climate||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|h. The teacher should provide his students with guidance throughout their education course regardless of whether they are struggling with the environment or well-adjusted to it.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|i. Excellent educators attend their students extracurricular activities and regularly and consistently exceed classroom expectations.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
Following are the questions concerning your general beliefs about the appropriate approach of teachers to students with chronic behavior.
|Section 2||Strongly Agree||Agree||Neutral||Disagree||Strongly Disagree|
|a. Building teachers-students relationships is essential to a solid education when it comes to chronic behavior||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|b. The difference in some classes is that it is easier to behave for some teachers than for others, especially for students with chronic behavior.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|c. Teachers who attend summer school gain an advantage among chronic behavior students than teachers refraining from it.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|d. There are significant differences between teachers concentrating on building positive relationships with their students in terms of daily experienced classroom disruptions.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|e. Teachers who realize the importance of relationships built with their students have better chances to cover more content during classroom hours due to the absence of disruptions.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|f. Teachers investing in the emotional and personal students well-being face a crucial decrease in the chronic behavior of their students.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|g. Teachers reviewing classroom expectations more often than four weeks during a school year experience lower occurrence of daily chronic behaviors in the classroom.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|h. Teachers participating in their students” outside activities experience a significantly lower daily number of classroom disruptions.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
|i. The development of caring and positive relationships is crucial for students demonstrating behavior disabilities.||SA||A||N||D||SD|
How often should teachers speak with their students one-on-one about the following? For each statement, please check the appropriate box.
|Section 3||Never||Once or twice||A few times a year||Several times a year|
|a. Classroom disruptions|
|b. Good academic performance|
|c. Not completing assignments|
|d. Poor academic performance|
|e. Interests and things vital to students|
|f. Students plans for college or work after graduation|
|g. Students worries.|