Interpersonal Relationship between Teacher and Student; Teacher and Teacher and School Management and Community


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The ability to make friends and interact socially is one of the most important life skills that children develop. Developing interpersonal relationships is so important, in fact, that many teachers may not realize their role in it.

Teachers link together students, other teachers, school administrators, families, and community members to foster the learning success and healthy development of their students. The nature of these interactions among different stakeholders varies depending on the teachers’ intent and the needs of their students. Students, particularly those at risk of school failure, can benefit from certain “protective supports provided by teachers” (Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994). The teacher’s role in creating an environment and building relationships conducive to learning goes beyond the traditional academic duties to include the provision of additional support and care. By developing nurturing, positive relationships with their students, teachers can buffer the impact of certain basic factors that may negatively impact on a student’s academic achievement.

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This Spotlight describes key relationships in which teachers participate when fulfilling their official roles. Research-based understandings about the nature, quality, and effectiveness of the teachers’ interactions are presented within the key contexts of the classroom, school, home, and community.


The relationship between teacher and student has been a focus of inquiry for over 2000 years, since Plato, Socrates, and Confucius established much of the philosophical guidelines for teaching. By emphasizing the acquisition of knowledge through dialogue, each philosopher stressed a commitment to the teacher-student relationship.

The 20th century has witnessed the proliferation of ideas fostering teacher-student relationships. In the early 1900s, John Dewey and other progressive educators theorized that children flourish if allowed to grow freely in their own way at their own rate without being forced or limited by too much teaching. Maria Montessori similarly argued that children should discover knowledge for themselves and learn by doing with a clear emphasis on sensory perceptions.

At the other end of the continuum, B. F. Skinner and other proponents of stimulus-response learning theory defined teachers as transmitters of knowledge and students as passive recipients. According to their respective theories of associationism and behaviorism, the classroom teacher presented content to children and conducted drill-and-review as children memorized the material.

The relationship between teacher and student was redefined with t he advent of cognitive psychology. Following the principles of constructivism, teachers and students were said to construct knowledge jointly. Teachers and students were believed to constitute a community of learners which engages in social discourse and produces common understandings. Teachers were seen as facilitators who guide and enrich children’s learning activities, with students serving as co-contributors to the learning process.

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Psychologists have recently addressed the psychosocial dimensions of teachers’ relationships with students. Research on resilience indicates that caring teachers who express concern for students and act as confidants, role models, and mentors can contribute to children’s capacity to overcome personal vulnerabilities and environmental adversities (Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994). Focusing on the psychosocial aspects of teaching is especially important with older children. Close, caring relationships with teachers facilitate children’s successful transition from elementary to junior high school. Unfortunately, while teachers are relatively well-connected with elementary-aged children, as children get older, teachers have less close contact with them and fewer resources are available to promote healthy development of the teacher-student relationships.


Teachers’ relationships with their peers, other school staff, and school administrators have been researched for decades. These studies reveal that teachers are often isolated from their peers and other school professionals. Thus, increasing teachers’ opportunities for interaction and collegiality has been a goal of recent efforts to increase teacher professionalism.

Research shows that while teachers may participate in organizational- level activities, curriculum and classroom practices are usually unaffected by participation in indirect activities such modifying budgets and/or school policies (Smylie, 1994). Other research has found a positive relationship between participative decision-making and classroom instruction, noting an increase in innovations adopted by schools, professional development activities, teacher exchange of ideas and knowledge, and improved understanding of learning and classroom instruction (Lieberman, Darling-Hammond, & Zuckerman, 1991).

Research on teachers who play leadership roles and increased opportunities for professional relationships demonstrates that there are benefits for these teachers, but there is little evidence that they are able to provide much support or benefit to other teachers. This lack raises organizational and policy questions on the extent to which conferring teachers with additional roles and responsibilities for professional development of peers can be effective in making specific changes in teacher practice at the organizational level.

Professional relationships among teachers adhere to norms that govern the ways teachers ask for and provide help. Research on professional development reveals that interactions among mentors and their paired teachers are often reserved, non-problematic, and uncritical. These studies show that in the beginning of such supervisory relationships, the content of the interpersonal interactions is informational and focuses on district policies and procedures, not classroom practice. Relationships between mentor teachers and novices tend to be about maintaining harmony and support, rather than developing competence. Further research indicates that increasing the quality of teachers’ work- relationships requires professional and organizational change through, for example, the establishment of professional communities, including professional development schools, where teachers’ work is collaborative, coordinated, and interdependent.

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Educating new teachers into the field should focus on strengthening interpersonal relationships among new teachers and their mentor teachers. Professional development programs should stress collegiality and the creation of shared standards of practice in the hope s of creating and sustaining communities of learners.


The teacher–principal relationship begins with communication. Good communication is considered the key to fostering a good school climate which enhances higher self-esteem and students’ levels of achievement. Teacher empowerment, morale and self-efficacy are all contributing factors to a good school climate and are all influenced by the level of communication shared by both principals and teachers in one form or another. For all of this to be effective, however, trust between teachers and principal is deemed a necessary component and is classified by some researchers as the “foundation of school effectiveness”. The interrelationship of all the components in creating a well-oiled machine for producing improved students’ outcomes may require a restructuring of the management system which may result in a flatter system in the form of team management.

Teacher satisfaction resulting from a good school climate will lead to a harmonious classroom climate which in turn facilitates increased student achievement. It is therefore imperative that both teachers and principal share good communication. School climate [also] affects the principal’s effectiveness and interferes with outcomes for teachers and students (Macneil, Prater and Busch 2009). It is a given therefore, that if school climate is improved then teacher’s performance, students achievement and behaviour will improve, enhancing principal effectiveness in the long run.


To create rich, nurturing educational environments in the classroom, schools need to maximize the use of resources available in their communities. Teachers can incorporate parents’ skills and knowledge and local organizations and programs into their curriculum to offer students supplementary information to complement their basic course work. Many teachers collaborate with local universities, museums, and community service organizations to expand the cultural resources available to students and enhance their educational experience. Teachers can forge relationships with outside agencies and community members to provide children with the best possible learning environment.

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To meet the diverse needs of students in our public schools, community services and service providers are often connected to the children’s school experience. As organizations, schools have the advantage of having the most frequent contact with students and therefore the potential to truly benefit children through the integration of school-linked services in meeting the children’s needs (Kirst & Kelly, 1995). Teachers may work with social workers, family counselors, local health care providers, and others to address and fulfill the needs of their students.

Also, teacher-parent relationships impact students’ learning and well-being and many teachers attempt to involve parents in school management or classroom activities. These parent-involvement efforts help establish and foster parent-teacher relationships, and include parents in educational interventions, which are significantly more effective than those without parent involvement.

Parent involvement programs promote a number of desirable student outcomes, including: decreased teen pregnancy and drop-out rates, increased graduation rates, and improved achievement and school attendance. Teachers can encourage and support parental involvement through home visits and parent teacher conferences. Parents who participate in these programs are more likely to further their own education by attending classes and are more able to provide increased support to their children and their children’s learning needs.

Caring parents and teachers who act in concert can strengthen the effects of educational and social interventions. When there are positive relationships among parents and teachers, the resources of the home and school contexts are amplified, providing a greater likelihood of positive outcomes for children.


Successful teachers are those that have the ability to maximise the learning potential of all students in their class. Developing positive interpersonal relationships between a teacher and student, teacher and teacher, teacher and school management and host community is a fundamental aspect of quality teaching and student learning. Interpersonal Relationship between Teacher and Student; Teacher and Teacher and School Management and Community

Positive interpersonal relationships promote a sense of school belonging and encourage students to participate cooperatively. Students develop confidence to experiment and succeed in an environment where they are not restricted by the fear of failure. Teachers are able to assist students with motivation and goal setting, and students can turn to them for advice and guidance. Interpersonal Relationship between Teacher and Student; Teacher and Teacher and School Management and Community

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