Keywords: student-teacher relationship, school transition, .. Fires in the Middle School Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from Middle Schoolers. However, those students who have close, positive and supportive relationships with their teachers will attain higher levels of achievement than those students. Perspectives of Teacher-Student Relationships 21 vi .. elementary school teachers' awareness of the role of their relationship with students, and provides . perform at grade level and achieve high academic standards (U.S.. Department of Patton's advice is to “do the very best with your full intellect to fairly.
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Journal of youth and adolescence, 41 2 Further support for the developmental significance of the quality of the teacher—student relationship. Journal of School Psychology, 39 4 Life-span development of self-esteem and its effects on important life outcomes.
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New teachers tend to be perceived as cold, impersonal, and unreceptive to their developmental needs. Furthermore, students face relevant changes in their friendship networks Cushman and Rogers, ; National Middle School Association, ; Scalera and Alivernini, ; Eccles and Roeser, Students have to reconsider their position in a new peer group, conscious of losing the security they have developed in a familiar classroom.
For particularly anxious children, fitting into a new peer group may be a problem and could call for specific interventions Gazelle, ; Oh et al. The transition causes a series of changes, making it necessary for students to reorganize their social lives, and requiring them to cope with the new adaptation and development tasks.
In the new school environment, students may perceive a lack of support from teachers and peers, and face difficulties in regulating their behavior. A reduction of emotional support in the transition to high school may result in a significant increase in the number of students who suffer from some form of exclusion Avant et al.
More specifically, if students needing more protection than others in this transition phase lack emotional support, their process of integration is hindered and they may also be exposed to experiences of victimization Gazelle, Conversely, many studies have documented that a warm classroom climate, fostered by the social support of teachers, parents and peers, promotes lower conduct problems Wang and Eccles, Furthermore, the transition to a new class may also provide students with positive opportunities to establish more satisfying and gratifying relationships with peers Li and Lerner,especially for students with a previous history of victimization Gazelle et al.
Alongside peer support, teachers' willingness and ability to support their students during developmental transitions remains a crucial factor in favoring their adaptation to the new environment.
Students who experience some form of support from their teachers show increased academic commitment and motivation to learn Fraire et al. In spite of this, it is often the case that teachers' management style, in an effort to maintain discipline and control over school activities, may compromise students' successful adaptation to the new requirements Eccles and Roeser, In particular, this happens in cases where great importance is given to formal assessment.
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Students with low marks may perceive their teachers as unsupportive and ill-disposed toward them. At the same time, schools as institutions will be perceived as an unpleasant, pointless and, at times, hostile places Bru et al.
In sum, it can certainly be argued that the teaching ability and relational skills of teachers are important to stimulate and promote students' motivation to learn while at school Wentzel, ; Chen, Teachers who are able to regulate classroom activities, while also highlighting students' progresses and achievements, significantly help their students during the transition and adaptation to the new school environment Ryan and Deci, Student-teacher relationship and behavioral problems Alongside being a place for learning, classrooms are living environments in which many significant interpersonal relationships are developed.
In this setting, teachers are central, and the quality of their relationships with students is fundamental to many aspects of school life. Children experiencing positive relationships with their teacher develop interest in school activities, are more motivated and willing to learn Baumeister and Leary, ; Wentzel et al. Additionally, a positive link exists between the emotional support provided by student-teacher interactions and students' development of relational and social skills Pianta et al.
Therefore, students' perception of emotional support is essential for their correct development, favoring learning and the creation of a wider network of friends Pianta et al. Low-conflict relationships with teachers favor an increase in positive classroom climate and students' perceived teacher support, and a decrease in students' negative experiences Hamre et al.
Teachers who share a warm relationship with their students tend to develop a positive sense of community in the classroom, as well as to promote cooperation among students by favoring their sharing of skills and ideas. Students seem to interiorize the interactions they have with their teachers and reproduce them with their classmates.
In other words, if teachers behave in a consistent, accessible manner with their students, the latter tend to behave in the same way with their classmates Mikami et al. Conversely, children who are more isolated tend to relate less with their teachers Wu et al.
Similarly, aggressive children and those with low interest for school activities tend to relate very little with their teachers Gest and Rodkin, The quality of friendships between peers is often compromised in children that show aggressiveness or lack of respect for others O'Connor, Therefore, improving children's relationships with their teachers and peers is essential, not just to promote motivation and commitment, and to support the resilience of vulnerable students, but also to avoid or interrupt behaviors that threaten positive psychological growth Bronfenbrenner and Morris, Current study In Italy, schools are organized in a way that continuity of the class group is maintained within school cycles.
Each class is formed by a group of students who normally stay together for the whole length of the school cycle, that is, for three consecutive years in middle school, and 5 years in high schools. Within-cycle changes in the class composition are rare, as there is much less mobility in Italy as compared, for example, to the United States or the United Kingdom. Teachers are also generally quite stable in the class: The continuity of the class group is significant in psychological terms, since with the passing of time students develop a sense of belonging, share ideas and visions of schooling, teaching, and learning.
Moreover, and differently from other countries, no curricular flexibility is allowed to the students in Italian middle and high schools.
By the end of middle school, at the age of 13—14 years, students are required to choose the track they intend to follow the next 5 years of high school. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of the quality of teacher-student relationships, as perceived by students, on their academic achievement and problem and prosocial behaviors during this important school transition.
Regarding behaviors, we consider problematic ones as possible risk factors for school dropout.
Indeed, as posited by many authors, dropping out of school is the culmination of cumulative risk factors over time, including poor academic achievement, school disengagement, and a variety of childhood behavior problems. In this study we examine whether students' individual relationship with their teachers during the transition from 8th to 9th grade predicts a change in academic achievement and in other behavioral difficulties related to the risk of school failure.
Based on previous considerations about the protective role of student-teacher relationship quality in improving students' academic success and psychosocial adjustment, we hypothesize that positive transition-related changes in STR quality will have a positive impact on students' academic achievement and behavioral outcomes.
Methods Participants and procedure Sample consists of Italian 8th grade students recruited from different middle schools in Northern Italy. After 1 year, participants were contacted in their new schools. However 59 participants were lost to follow-up given that some of the new schools did not give consent for the research to continue.
We employed a self-report questionnaire to collect information regarding demographic characteristics age, genderquality of relationship with teachers using the Student Perception of Affective Relationships with Teacher Scale—SPARTS, Koomen and Jellesma,problematic and prosocial behavior Strenghts and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ, Goodman, and academic achievement as the average grade across all the school subjects.
Ethical considerations School principals gave their consent for the participation of both teachers and students in our study. Individual informed consent to take part in the research was also collected from teachers, children and their parents, along with written consent describing the nature and objective of the study according to the ethical code of the Italian Association for Psychology AIP.
The consent stated that data confidentiality would be assured and that participation was voluntary. For the pupils, both parents were asked to sign the consent form in order to have their child participate in our study. Instruments After collecting data about students' age and gender, both students and teachers were asked to fill in a questionnaire including the following instruments. It consists of 25 items investigating 5 different dimensions: Teachers evaluated the degree to which each item such as: