Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 55 (2016) 88-99
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study explores what cognitions underlie teachers' mental representations of different types of positive and problematic relationships with their students.
The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 secondary school teachers in the Netherlands in the spring of 2012 and 2013.
The authors encouraged the participants during the interviews to choose the relationships according to their own standards of positive and problematic to elaborate on their answers.
The authors also asked teachers about general strategies for creating positive relationships and preventing or mending problematic ones.
The findings show that when comparing positive and problematic relationships, accounts of the student schema differ. The teachers viewed their positive relationships with their students as agreeable and their problematic ones, as unagreeable.
The authors argued that teachers' cognitions of these two types of relationships involved student social characteristics and student motivational qualities.
The data also shows that problematic student behaviour is not a deal breaker for positive teacher-student relationships, or a defining factor of problematic relationships.
The authors found differences regarding positive relationships between novices and more experienced teachers. Beginning teachers engage in positive relationships with students with whom they succeed as teachers. The students receive high grades and show motivation and respect for teachers' authority. The experienced teachers perceive positive relationships as ones, that the student benefits from this teacher.
These findings have certain practical implications.
The authors suggest that more attention in teacher education programmes on how to motivate students during the lesson may enhance teachers' awareness of their own role in student motivation and thus contribute significantly to the development of teacher-student relationships.
Furthermore, the authors argue that reflecting on their positive and problematic relationships may increase teachers' awareness of their idiosyncratic presuppositions and biases in the emergence of teacher-student relationships and be a first step to developing teacher knowledge on this subject.