Leadership magazine March/April 2018 V47 No. 4 | Page 33

A student ’ s exposure to and retention of the cultural , social and emotional capital that a teacher provides can greatly enhance the development of resilience .
Most young children tend to believe that they are not capable of grasping an idea or subject when faced with failure . A fixed mindset causes additional challenges for an at-risk student when coupled with other difficult situations in their life , and they begin to believe that their intellectual abilities cease at certain levels of understanding .
Adversely , the idea of simply telling children how smart they are is not the answer to fostering resilience or building growth mindsets . Instead , teachers should focus on praising the child ’ s individual process to learning ( Dufur , Parcel and Troutman , 2013 ; Dweck , 2006 ). When a teacher focuses on a child ’ s effort or strategies they have applied to their individual learning , they instill an eagerness in the child to confront new challenges with an individual belief that ultimately leads to growth and enjoyment of learning ( Ginsburg and Kinsman , 2014 ; Sadowski , 2013 ). The language of the teacher is such that a child recognizes they have the ability to learn and achieve equally to their peers , despite the different challenges they face .
The second theme that emerged from the interviews as being an effective strategy to support student-teacher relationships is establishing high expectations for all students . High expectations are critical to a child ’ s success in school when the expectations are communicated in a supportive and edifying manner .
The expectations can be proximal ( shortterm ) or distal ( long-term ), depending on the circumstances , with the distal producing lasting , long-term effects on the child . Teachers can communicate these expectations through conversations about the importance of acquiring a quality education , while teaching the child his or her role in meeting those expectations . This strategy is easy to incorporate in classrooms through effective feedback using formative and summative assessments as their guide .
When adults on campus model a passion for learning , coupled with high expectations and rigorous , engaging curricula , students attain higher levels of academic achievement . However , high expectations should be realistic , and students must receive the necessary supports to meet the expectations . In-classroom activities need to emphasize academic achievement , while teaching skills that build confidence and self-efficacy .
High expectations leading to student achievement are not only verbalized by the teacher , but are also the environment by which a student learns . High expectations and an effective learning environment are closely woven together when developing positive student-teacher relationships . The relationship is strengthened when the learning environment created by the teacher is one that invites inquiry , promotes experimentation ( be it right or wrong ), and makes connections to deeply learned concepts .
Effective classroom curricula will embrace academic tasks , peer collaboration , result indicators , and positive reinforcement when students display the expected skills and behaviors . Conversely , when a teacher inaccurately places different levels of expectations on children based on their circumstances , or establishes a learning environment that discourages individual thinking , they limit , and at times , reverse the established positive relationship . By establishing high standards , teachers can inspire students to overcome their weaknesses and focus on achievement . As students reach these expectations , they gain confidence in their abilities , and develop academic resilience .
The third theme surfacing from the interviews is vital to establishing a positive relationship among teachers and students . Positive relationships are predicated upon the genuine care and empathy teachers give to students . Evidence suggests that the empathy and caring of even one adult in the life of a child can prevent future negative consequence for that child .
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