If one were to look up research studies like this one, regarding the role teachers play in students' success in the classroom; they would come up with a plethora of studies in a variety of niches such as the role ethnic and racial differences play between teachers and students, the role gender differences play, subject material and so on and so forth.
As society moves towards becoming more conscientious, members of society, especially parents of school age children, have become more observant regarding the behaviors of teachers towards students and how this variable influences the achievements of students. Even politicians have taken notice. Sometime last year I wrote this post about how a Rhode Island school board took a radical measure by firing all their teachers, over collective failing grades by the school's students.
But what if the key to a student's success wasn't just dependent on his or her teacher's attitude but his or her attitude towards teachers? When it comes to research studies that correlate a student's academic success with his or her relationship with teachers, the premise is a simple one. Teachers who generate positive attitudes towards students have students who reciprocate and excel. As a psychotherapist, I know this is true. I take the same approach towards therapy and as a result experience a lot of success stories with clients.
This being written, the key to a student's success in academia relies not just with the teacher's attitude towards the student but also with the student's attitude towards the teacher. It would seem that with the recent wave of educational reforms, where the public is quick to label teachers as incompetent and administrators are quick to threaten teachers with individual and mass layoffs, most parents have bought into the illusion that teachers alone hold the key to the success of their students.
It all boils down to responsibility; we parents teaching our sons and daughters how to make best use of their ability to respond to challenges. It's understandable that our children will become easily turned off to learning in an environment where they feel unaccepted by their teachers. After all we are social animals, and the habitual perception of being rejected has been shown lessen motivation and increase lethargy.
What if we could teach our children not to vilify those who reject them, but instead practice forgiveness, compassion and assertiveness in getting the teachers to work with them? I believe this attitude of empowerment will take most, if not all, students far in their pursuits and achievements.