At-risk students are diverse in their learning and psychological needs. They exhibit a wide range of maladaptive behaviours such as negative affect and low motivation. Frequently, they are also low in self-esteem, academic self-efficacy and self-concept (Baird & Scott, 2009; Wang et al., 2014). However, at-risk students had reported that a key contributing factor to their failure was the lack of close teacher-student relationships, as shown by teacher apathy, low teacher expectations, and lack of warmth, care and support from the teachers (Wang et al., 2014).
Teachers need to create a safe and nurturing environment, and build strong relationships with students, as these are critical enablers for ensuring that students rediscover the joy of learning in school. At-risk students who perceive high emotional support from teachers are more likely to be engaged in class (Chong, Huan, Quek, Yeo, & Ang, 2010; Martin & Rimm-Kaufman, 2015). Strong teacher-student relationships have also been associated with increased academic achievement and reduced school dropout (Murray & Malmgren, 2005). Thus, it is imperative that teachers have the skills to build teacher-student relationships, especially with their at-risk students.
Teachers’ relationships and interactions with their students are factors which can contribute either to a positive developmental change in their students or potentially inhibit their students’ developmental process (Pianta, Hamre, & Allen, 2012). From this perspective, teacher and students interpersonal communications embody the relational capacity of the classroom to promote positive development. That is, the behavioural expression of teachers with their students in the classroom is an important factor fostering learning and development within the classroom.
One notable example of an evidence-based classroom practice for enhancing teacher resilience and teacher- student relationship is the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach which was developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children (Northeast Foundation for Children, 2007, 2009).The RC approach is purported as an evidence-based intervention for the professional development of teachers in primary and secondary students. The RC approach emphasizes the creation of a caring, well-organised classroom environment and the importance of respectful social interaction that will enhance teachers’ and students’ social and relational skills, and improve students’ social and academic outcomes (Baroody, Rimm-Kaufman, Larsen, & Curby, 2014). Positive Teacher Language is one key way in the RC approach in which teachers communicate expectations to students. Positive Teacher Language emphasizes the careful and conscientious use of words, voice, tone, and pacing by the teacher when talking to students, and together with effective listening skills, will nurture students to develop self-discipline, build sense of belonging, and encourage student to learn and achieve in an engaging and active way (Northeast Foundation for Children, 2007, 2009).
The purpose of this research study was to evaluate the impact of a teacher professional development programme in Singapore on Positive Teacher Language to improve teacher-student relationships and to engage at-risk students. The research questions were:
(1) What are the effects of Positive Teacher Language on students’ academic achievement, social and emotional development, classroom engagement, and teacher-student relationships?
(2) What are the perception of the teachers regarding the acceptability and effectiveness of the Positive Teacher Language intervention?
Baird, G.L. & Scott, W.D. (2009). Cognitive self-regulation in youth with and without learning disabilities: Academic self-efficacy, theories of intelligence, learning vs. performance goal preferences, and effort attributions. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28(7), 881-908. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2009.28.7.881 Baroody, A. E., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Larsen, R. A., & Curby, T. W. (2014). The link between responsive classroom training and student-teacher relationship quality in the fifth grade: A study of fidelity of implementation. School Psychology Review, 43(1), 69-85. Chong, W. H., Huan, V. S., Quek, C. L., Yeo, L. S., & Ang, R. P. (2010). Teacher-student relationship: The influence of teacher interpersonal behaviours and perceived beliefs about teachers on the school adjustment of low achieving students in Asian middle schools. School Psychology International, 31(3), 312–328. Martin, D. P., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2015). Do student self-efficacy and teacher-student interaction quality contribute to emotional and social engagement in fifth grade math? Journal of School Psychology, 53(5), 359-373. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2015.07.001 Murray, C., & Malmgren, K. (2005). Implementing a teacher-student relationship program in a high-poverty urban school: Effects on social, emotional, and academic adjustment and lessons learned. Journal of School Psychology, 43(2), 137-152. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2005.01.003 Northeast Foundation for Children. (2007). Responsive classroom: Level 1 resource book. Turners Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children. Northeast Foundation for Children. (2009). Responsive classroom: Level 2 resource book. Turners Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children. Pianta, R.C., Hamre, B.K., & Alen, J.P. (2012). Teacher-student relationships and engagement: Conceptualizing, measuring, and improving the capacity of classroom interactions. In S.L. Christenson, A.L. Reschly, & C.Wylie (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Student Engagement (pp. 365-386). New York: Springer Science+Business Media. Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Larsen, R. A., Baroody, A. E., Curby, T. W., Ko, M., Thomas, J. B., & ... DeCoster, J. (2014). Efficacy of the responsive classroom approach: Results from a 3-year, longitudinal randomized controlled trial. American Educational Research Journal, 51(3), 567-603. doi:10.3102/0002831214523821 Wang, L. Y., Teng, S. S., & Tan, C. S. (2014). Levelling up academically low progress students (NIE Working Paper Series No. 3). Singapore: National Institute of Education.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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