ERG SES E 11, Students and Teachers in Education
The quality of the interactions that teachers establish with their students is a predictor of their academic and social progress (Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Howes, 2000; Hughes & Kwok, 2006). Students who experience these quality relationships with their teachers seem to be more likely to display more appropriate behaviours (Pianta, 2000; Murray & Greenberg, 2001; Murray & Murray, 2004; Peisner-Feinberg et al., 2001). Arends (1995) says it is important for teachers to strive to know individually their students. This condition, which is especially affective, is essential, since these create an empathetic relationship with the teacher, the occurrence of disruptive behaviours may be lower.
The management of emotions, by either teachers or students, is vitally important in academic success, in the processes perception of justice among students and teachers as well as in the motivation processes and satisfaction of students and teachers. (Day, 1999; Day & Leitch, 2001; Hargreaves, 1998, 2000; Pritchard and Wilson, 2003; Zembylas, 2004). The need to promote, together with the curriculum knowledge, a positive socio-emotional climate among students (ability to work in groups, solidarity and mutual aid, acceptance of another different incompleteness of consciousness of individuals and knowledge) is seen not only as necessary and urgent but possible, which calls for strong investment in teacher training in this area (Amado et al, 2009).
Experiential education is one of the most influential educational models in the preschools and primary schools in Belgium and Holland (Laevers, 2004), having spread to other European countries, including Portugal (Portugal & Laevers, 2010; Pascal & Bertram, 2009). Here, the inclusion was made primarily at the level of preschool education, but it is still under explored at the level of the primary school.
Experiential attitude that is the foundation of this model allows the teacher to be an agent of communication in which experiential dialogue / sensitivity is one of its essential dimensions (Laevers, 2003, 2005), creating teaching conditions effectively leading to significant learning (Rogers, 1983 1986; Pascal, 2003; Oliveira-Formosinho, 2004; Portugal, 2008; Laevers, 2009). The highlighted features in experiential dialogue are articulated with Roger’s work (1983, 1986) for whom the teacher-student relationship should develop in an atmosphere of authenticity, acceptance and empathic understanding.
The sensitivity, present in experiential dialogue, requires attention and consideration for the child's needs (Laevers, 2003; Pascal & Bertram, 2009; Portugal & Laevers, 2010), accounts for a qualitatively higher educational intervention (Portugal, 2008) providing the student emotional skills for integration (Kog, Moons & Depondt, 2004). Sensitivity is based on the principles of acceptance, empathy and authenticity. The acceptance is expressed in the ability to accept the student as a person with self-worth, accept their feelings and their opinions without judgment. Empathy is revealed when the teacher understands the behaviour of the students presenting a sensitive awareness of the way the process of education and learning is presented to the student. It’s reflected in how the adult is sensitive to the feelings and wellbeing of the student, which can be seen in adult responsiveness to their needs. The authenticity implies a balance between understanding and acceptance of others, their own feelings and values, and their communication.
A teacher-student interaction that contributes to an emotional education successfully became the focus of our project. Thus, it is intended to find and analyse the conceptions of primary school teachers on emotional education and its impact on the emotional well-being, development and learning of students. This study will reveal the perception of a sample of Portuguese teachers about the student-teacher interactions that support a successful emotional education therefore giving us data to understand and analyse the strategies to promote emotional education in schools.
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