Teachers and care: a relational narrative inquiry of the power of educators for youth
youth, teachers, junior high, care, connections, relationships
Our human process of becoming, which involves identity formation and an emerging sense of self (Worth, 2009, p.1050), begins at a very young age and reaches critical points through youth's educational life course. Through the process of becoming, the ways through which youth deal with the challenges in their lives are 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 (2013), 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 a necessary time for youth becoming 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 as youth learn who they are and aspire to become. This project is a sociological exploration into the dynamics of building caring relationships between youth and teachers. Specifically, what are the relational processes of teacher-student connections according to junior high teachers?
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