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Building Positive Relationships (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Apr 30, 2014

A Sense of Purpose

Students succeed more when they have a sense of purpose to their school life. Essentially, success at school is their job. School needs to prove its worth to them. Students benefit from lessons on and experiences with decision making and cooperative problem solving.

Teachers encourage positive self-esteem when they recognize, validate, and respect students’ own cultures. Cooperative learning and other human relations strategies teach students how to achieve positive interdependence and how to create and maintain a cooperative working environment . Students learn the rewards of shared responsibility and cooperation.

Teachers make decisions to structure their classrooms in ways that encourage learning and cooperation or in ways that produce anxiety, frustration, competition, failure, and disruption. In particular, a highly competitive classroom environment discourages trust and cooperation. Some students always lose, and these students legitimately feel alienated and angry. Students must come to trust that the teacher has their own best interests at heart, even in difficult times. Teachers achieve this goal by demonstrating their respect for the fundamental dignity and worth of each student (Valenzuela, 1999).

Stopping Demeaning Comments

Too often, particularly in grades 4 through 10, classrooms are the scene of bullying, intolerance, and demeaning comments among students. All students deserve a safe environment in which to learn. Teachers should prohibit demeaning and derogatory comments, particularly those that invite racial and gender conflict (see Chapter 8). Teachers need to work against this intolerance by presenting lessons and activities that promote tolerance and respect and lessons that oppose scapegoating.

You improve your classroom climate by modeling positive, supportive communications skills and by teaching these skills to students. The great majority of interactions in classrooms are among students. You can influence and encourage respect in these interactions by teaching positive skills. Lessons in listening actively, using “I” messages, and negotiating conflicts show students how to treat each other with respect.

Teaching democratic participation and decision making encourages positive self-esteem.

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