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Reconsidering differential behaviors: reflection and teacher judgment when forming classroom relationships

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Positive teacher–student relationships promote growth in students both academically and socially, but in today’s ever-changing classrooms creating such positive relationships can be a challenge. This study attempts to look at the influences on teacher thinking and judgment when creating and maintaining relationships. This is done by examining the relationships that developed across a year between a second-grade teacher and two of her students. The teacher participated in a systematic reflection activity that focused her attention on how emotionally close she felt to her students. Across the year the insight gained by the teacher as she participated in the reflective exercise influenced her perceptions of students and led to changes in her concerted actions towards them. The findings indicate that variation in relationships between the teacher and individual students in the classroom can be attributed to differentiated behavior based on the teacher’s perception of student need, teacher ability to meet that need, and future benefit of doing so, and that those perceptions can change through reflective practice, resulting in purposeful interaction leading to more positive relationships.
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Keywords: case study; differential behaviors; reflection; teacher judgment; teacher–student relationships

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Teacher Education, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA.

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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