The Role of Elementary Teachers’ Conceptions of Closeness to Students on Their Differential Behaviour in the Classroom

Nov. 10, 2008

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 24, Issue 8, November 2008, P. 1965-1985

While many studies have documented the importance of supportive student–teacher relationships, particularly during students’ formative education experiences, few studies have systematically examined teachers’ conceptions of their relationships.

The purpose of this project was to examine elementary school teachers’ conceptions of closeness using a structured interview protocol. Participants included three Caucasian teachers from the United States.

Specifically, as part of the protocol, teachers were asked to
(1) rate their feelings of closeness for each of the students in their class,
(2) describe each relationship,
(3) identify patterns of interpersonal closeness and distance across their class, and
(4) talk about their understanding of what it means to be close to students.

Findings were organised into a grounded model of teacher closeness in which teachers described how their feelings of closeness to students were related to five different teacher's approach orientations.
Teachers’ approach orientations may have important implications for the way in which children in the class are privileged or marginalised by their teacher relationship.

Updated: Jan. 19, 2009