Leadership magazine March/April 2018 V47 No. 4 | Page 32

school despite the serious risk factors he has faced, and his response was simple: his teachers. I asked him to elaborate on the re- sponse and his perception of the significance of the student-teacher relationship focused primarily on the need for high expectations. He described the difference between teach- ers with high and low expectations as being the difference between students feeling val- ued or rejected. Jose’s view was that all students can be positively impacted by teachers when they demand excellence. He expressed that when teachers have high expectations, even the disciplinary kids work hard in class. High expectations from his teachers was a key contributor to his conquering of adverse situations in his life. He noted that his teachers who had high expectations and provided the support to meet the expectations, made him realize that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to. In contrast, Jose implies that when a teacher has low expectations, it rubs off on the students in the classroom. He declared, “I’ve had some teachers that are just so bitter, you know, you can tell they just don’t want to be there. Some classes you just sit there; no- body talks or does anything. I can see where that is a class that nobody wants to go to.” He concludes that students learn resil- iency and how to succeed with challenges when teachers expect their students to do more, and they develop positive relation- ships with their students. Each student described the impact of student-teacher relationships as the dif- ference between student success or student failure in school. Three stories; three key conclusions Although there are many factors that lead to a child’s academic success, these three studies feature the impetus of relationships as a key contributor – if not the primary fac- tor – in assisting adolescents to reach their full potential as students. The influence of the student-teacher relationship emerged as the catalyst to fostering student resilience and achievement. The inf luence of nonparent adult rela- tionships has been supported by research for decades (Beam, Chen and Greenberger, 2002, Garmezy, 1985; Iver, 1990). Outside of their parents, children spend the majority of their time with educators, leaving teach- ers as the most influential nonparent adult relationship for children. Three important themes emerged from the study in order for the relationship to remain both productive and successful. A teacher’s language surfaced as one important element to successful student- teacher relationships. Teachers find them- selves asking how they can reach the child and motivate them to be resilient to chal- lenges they face in school. In order for teachers to foster growth mindsets in their children, they must focus primarily on the child’s beliefs. Research indicates that chil- dren’s beliefs about their own intelligence play an integral role in how they achieve in school (Dweck, 2006). 32 Leadership