TITLE: Teacher-Student Relationships: A Qualitative Study of Student Perspectives and Teacher Interviews
Authentic Teacher-Student Relationships (TSR) are a critical factor in a child’s educational journey. Students develop motivation and become more fully engaged, resulting in higher academic achievement, within the context of these carefully and deliberately developed relationships. The key question that this research addresses is how teachers develop authentic relationships with urban, high school students. This research utilizes the the Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) to identify students’ sense of connectedness to teachers in an urban, Midwestern high school. Data collected from the student responses was used to identify teachers skilled at developing and maintaining authentic TSR. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the identified teachers. Through these interviews, the wisdoms, practices and teaching philosophies of skilled professional teachers emerged. Teachers identified the importance of creating opportunities to engage with students in academic, emotionally honest, and personal ways within a climate of positivity. Giving students room for autonomy and honoring students’ competence was identified as a pathway toward better relatedness. Teacher flexibility was highlighted as was creating a classroom experience that is joyful, playful, and full of humor.
THESIS DEFENDED AND APPROVED: Spring 2018