Teacher Attitudes Regarding Interactions With 8th Grade Students
Updegraff, Sarah G.
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The Problem: Classroom management and success of students is difficult to maintain if teachers do not know their students and build and maintain appropriate relationships in the classroom. Very little discussion is to be found on the importance of relationships with students in the classroom and the skills teachers use to foster these relationships. Teachers also spend very little time reflecting upon these relationships and talking with other teachers about the needs of their students. Procedures: In the following study the behavior referrals of students from their 7th grade year are used to fuel discussion with teachers and administrators about how they interact with students and what, if any, reflection they do regarding their students outside their academic needs. Eight 8th grade teachers and two middle school administrators from the same urban Midwestern middle school were interviewed to determine what strategies were being used and what the needs of the staff were regarding building and maintaining relationships with students. Findings: Although many strategies emerged throughout the interviews teachers and administrators showed a genuine concern for the well being of their students and teachers, there was little time prioritized for staff dialogue and professional development regarding building and maintaining relationships with students. It was discovered that some form of relationship with each students was important and that families and communication play a role in those relationships. Conclusions: Teachers and administrators saw the need to get to know students on a personal level and held the strategies to do so in high regard. There is little time, however, to facilitate discussions during planning time or professional development time because of the focus on other academic goals of the building. Each teacher in the sample did show that they used time in class to get to know students and were concerned about the well-being of their students. Recommendations: Teachers should be allowed professional development time to talk about students and how to build and maintain relationships with them. They felt as though they needed to focus on academic goals during class time, but also saw a benefit in time for reflection and discussion of their students’ needs. Staff development needs to include time for those discussions and the sharing of skills and information to become more cognizant of students and their lives.
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