We are excited to share a new monthly article series where we highlight research-based practices that are making a profound impact on student learning at 175 award-winning NCUST schools. We discovered 8 specific practices common in these schools. Central to our findings is the ability of teachers in these schools to lead students to feel valued, respected, and capable in ways that result in students achieving equity and excellence. In this newsletter, we shine a spotlight on the teaching practice of Making Students Feel Valued and Capable.
John Hattie (2009) synthesized over 800 studies of factors that influenced student achievement. He found that teacher-student relationships (effect size of .72) where students feel valued, respected, and capable have a major influence on student learning. A factor that influences positive teacher-student relationships is the extent to which teachers succeed in getting to know and understand the students they teach, leveraging their voices and honoring their experiences as valued members of the school community.
Authors of Teaching Practices From America’s Best Urban Schools (Johnson, Joseph F., Jr.; Cynthia L. Uline; Lynne G. Perez, 2019 pgs. 4-7) write, “In our interviews and focus groups with hundreds of students from high-performing urban schools, students used the adjective “caring” to describe their teachers, more than any other descriptor. Students used the metaphor of family more than any other to describe their school. ‘It’s like a family here. People care about you,’ students explained. A factor that influences positive teacher-student relationships is the extent to which teachers succeed in getting to know and understand the students they teach. Often, in urban schools, teachers come from different racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds than the students they serve. Perhaps, in our typical pre-service and in-service teacher preparation programs, we underestimate the chasms created by these differences. Too often, educators graduate from teacher preparation programs assuming they will teach students who share their backgrounds, interests, curiosities, and motivations. Conversely, too often, educators graduate from teacher preparation programs with assumptions that urban students have dramatically different backgrounds, interests, curiosities, and motivations. Neither set of assumptions is an appropriate substitute for the time and energy necessary to get to know students and their families. The greater the social distance between educators and students, the more essential it is for educators to spend time getting to know who they have the privilege to serve. Fisher et al. (2018) reported that only 52% of students believe their teachers know their name. Additionally, only 67% of students indicated that they feel accepted at school for who they are. The lack of personal connection and acceptance create major learning barriers for many students. In contrast, students at high-performing urban schools reported that their teachers cared enough to get to know them, to build relationships, and to establish bonds.”
Authors of When Black Students Excel (Johnson, Joseph F., Jr.; Cynthia L. Uline; Stanley J. Munro, Jr., 2023 pgs. 158-159) write, “Leaders at the six schools (we have studied) never stopped working to ensure that every student benefitted from a positive transformational culture. School leaders and teachers made impressive efforts to ensure each new teacher they hired embraced and enhanced a school-wide culture conducive to Black students. In addition, principals and other school personnel develop an array of structures and systems to support the positive development of relationships between and among teachers, students and families. Leaders ensured that all personnel contributed to a culture in which black students experienced a sense of belonging, the feeling of being valued and loved, and a sense of joy, as central to these efforts.”
Authors of Leadership Practices in America’s Best Urban Schools (Johnson, Joseph F., Jr.; Cynthia L. Uline; Lynne G. Perez, 2017 pgs. 22-26) also write, “The positive transformational culture (In the schools we have studied) influenced every aspect of schooling: student behavior, classroom instruction, extra-curricular activities, professional learning communities, professional development, school routines, procedures, policied, and more. As well, the positive transformational culture influenced changes that improved learning results for every racial/ethnic group, every language group, students with disabilities, and other groups of students who had typically not excelled at school. Educators did not simply seek to transform the schooling experience for one demographic group of students. Instead, they sought to ensure success for every group they served. As a result, students perceived that their success in school was likely. The positive transformational culture made school a place where all demographic groups of students wanted to learn and grow.”
Student Empathy Interview is a tool to capture the perspective of students on a broad level as it relates to their experience at school and addresses issues such as the degree to which students feel safe, feel a sense of belonging and have substantial academic support. The tool can be administered to all students or specific student groups which represent a potential equity dilemma.
Get notified about new articles, events, insights, and opportunities.