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Being there: how teachers of students facing adversity promote positive relationships
journal contributionposted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by D Ridge, M Sheehan, Bernie MarshallBernie Marshall, S Maher, Rachel Carlisle
While it is said that building positive relationships between students and teachers promotes both student emotional wellbeing and learning, the literature currently provides few clues on how to go about building such relations (and the priorities for action) which are grounded in the research. Interviews and a focus group were used to explore the perspectives of experienced teachers in promoting wellbeing among students facing adversity (i.e. prolonged difficulties and misfortune, such as poverty and issues associated with being a refugee). The results showed that teachers who nurtured relationships with students facing adversity meet considerable challenges. Priority challenges included grappling with unfamiliar student values; facing their own and other staff judgements; boundary issues; schools becoming refuges in communities under strain; and trying to still care when workplace changes appeared to work against positive teacher–student (TS) relationships. The paper concludes that such relationships are a site of tension, contradiction and intensity. Nevertheless, for these teachers, the specific challenges in relationships laid the foundations for meaningful student learning and mental health promotion.