Teachers and Care
A Relational Narrative Inquiry of the Power of Education
Our human process of becoming – identity formation and emerging sense of self – begins at a very young age and reaches critical points through youth’s educational life course (Grosz, 1999). Through the process of becoming, the ways through which youth deal with the challenges in their lives is potentially supported or thwarted, depending on the presence of caring adults who may act as guides, adult mentors or what can be referred to as “champions.” According to Rita Pierson (2012), a champion for youth is “an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.” During adolescence, the transition from elementary school to junior high can result in “heightened levels of mistrust between teachers and students, student perceptions that teachers no longer care about them, and a decrease in opportunities for students to establish meaningful relationships with teachers” (Wentzel, 1997, p.411). Therefore, the position that teachers occupy at such an integral time for youth empowerment gives these adult authorities a unique opportunity to connect with youth and to establish a relationship that can serve as a role model and a support system for these youths as they learn who they are. This project is an exploration into the relational process of teacher-student connections from the vantage point of junior high educators to better understand why and how teachers form these significant relationships with students.
Faculty Mentor: Joanne Minaker
Department: Sociology (Honours)