Title

Notions of Care and Its Impact of Human Agency: Children's Reflections on Teacher-Child Relationships

Focused Area

Improving School Climate for Youth-At-Risk

Relevance to Focused Area

The proposal illustrates ways teachers and school administrators can facilitate acceptance and inclusion in the school environment for students who contend with persistent academic failure. These students may be marginalized for the amount of attention they require within the classroom setting. Often, their attentional needs can be met through a school-wide adoption of a commitment to care.

Primary Strand

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance to Primary Strand

The case study presents the affects of care encounters on academic achievement and human agency. The research examined the case of a student who had persisted with academic failure and turned toward academic success with the help of teacher care and administrative programs which provided social agency and grade-level acceleration after failure

Brief Program Description

Utilizing Nell Noddings conception of relational care as a professional development initiative, parents, teachers and school administrators will come to understand how care encounters at school impacted one non-traditional African American male student’s experience of school from second to eighth grade. We will understand his struggle to feel accepted in the school environment and his ultimate failure of sixth grade..

Summary

Teacher-child relationships that have been sub-optimal and declining over years of schooling are connected with low academic outcomes for students who are at low risk for academic failure (O’Connor & McCartney, 2007). Moreover, students who experience persistent academic failure have linkages to negative, perpetuating psychological effects (Roeser, Eccles, & Stroebel, 1998) that merit an investigation of these students’ teacher-child relationships over time. Nell Noddings (2001) presents a concept of care that examines relational validity and asserts that teachers can learn about their care actions in teacher-child relationships by examining the responses of the cared-for student. In social cognitive theory, there is no separation of agency and the social structures we exist within—namely classroom and school environments (Bandura, 2006). In this presentation, I detail findings from a qualitative case study on the phenomenological experience of persistent academic failure and turning toward success. In particular, I examine the descriptions of care encounters with teachers and school administrators from the responses of one non-traditional African American male student as he recalls experiences in his elementary and secondary school environments. The student’s interpretations identify three ways care encounters impact human agency and subsequently, student success: 1) teachers contribute to student’s navigation of social differences, 2) teachers act as gatekeepers for inclusion in the school’s culture, 3) good quality care relationships—even neutral ones—promote achievement, social agency, and parental involvement.

Evidence

Because of care-related practices of certain teachers and school administrators, the participant experienced a grade-level acceleration from eighth grade to tenth grade. Nell Noddings has written extensively on the concept of care in teacher relationships and Bandura’s work on social cognitive theories of human agency is seminal to the field.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Sharron Y. Stephens is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia. She has a Masters of Educational Psychology in the area of Applied Cognition and Development from the University of Georgia and a Bachelors of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas.

Start Date

10-23-2016 10:00 AM

End Date

10-23-2016 11:00 AM

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Oct 23rd, 10:00 AM Oct 23rd, 11:00 AM

Notions of Care and Its Impact of Human Agency: Children's Reflections on Teacher-Child Relationships

Utilizing Nell Noddings conception of relational care as a professional development initiative, parents, teachers and school administrators will come to understand how care encounters at school impacted one non-traditional African American male student’s experience of school from second to eighth grade. We will understand his struggle to feel accepted in the school environment and his ultimate failure of sixth grade..