Brandy McCray recently completed her thesis, which described a brilliant study of the importance of relationship between student and teacher in the high school classroom. Brandy wrote in her abstract of the study:
Engaging students emotionally is paramount in academic and personal success. Emerging fields such as Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) and burgeoning programs in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are beginning to demonstrate how emotional and social behavior affects learning and cognition. At the crux of the issue of SEL is relationship. Understanding how teacher-student relationships unfold and impact educational and personal outcomes is vitally important in bridging the gap between research and the classroom. The findings presented here are from a year-long participatory action research program observing one high school art teacher as she engages in forming relationships with diverse student from multiple classes. At the heart of the research is conversation. Through sharing emerging findings from student and teacher surveys, observations, and interviews, with the teacher, and engaging in conversation around these findings, some of the elements involved in creating positive teacher-student relationships are revealed. Finally, this conversation on how to engage students in social, emotional, and personal meaning produced a model of what I refer to as a Personally Relevant Curriculum. I believe that such a process oriented approach, as presented here, has great potential for transforming the presence, engagement and conscious connection of the teacher and students in the classroom.