The Influential Cultural Factors Associated with the Development of Positive Student-Teacher Relationships
An emerging set of literature in school reform has centered on the concept of student–teacher relationships. Characteristic behaviors of positive relationships have been defined as students feeling respected, being treated fairly, being cared for as individuals and having individual learning cared for (McNeely, Nonnemaker, & Blum, 2000; Resnick et. al., 1997). These positive student-teacher relationships are critical to school engagement (Resnick, Bearman, Blum, et al., 1997), attendance, and a reduction in violent or inappropriate behavior, (Jenkens, 1997) but for many students, particularly those whose trust in adults has been damaged, only real respect can cultivate that relationship. This presentation will explore the findings of a qualitative study that goes beyond surface characteristics of teachers to examine the role of underlying cultural beliefs and values. In particular, Anglo-Saxon hierarchical and patriarchal cultural views are contrasted with Native American cultural views of children and the impact of each on developing respectful relationships with youth. The results for students who lack positive connections with adults in schools provide implications for efforts to improve these relationships.
Keywords: Teacher-Student Relationships, Behavior, School Climate, Adolescents
Behavior Specialist, Special Education, Char-Em Intermediate School District
Professor, Educational Leadership, Eastern Michigan University