Creating a Positive Classroom Environment: A Case Study of Elementary Teachers' Reflections on the Work of Building Student Relationships [thesis]

Lisa Strader
Research suggests roughly one in four children experience one or more instances of trauma, or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), before they turn 18; this has been associated with difficulty in behavior and academic performance within the classroom. Without intervention, the negative outcomes associated with ACEs such as higher risk of suicide, homelessness, and unemployment, may continue to impact these children through adulthood. This case study explores teachers' reflection on the
more » ... es they use to foster a positive classroom environment, in particular how they build relationships with students experiencing various types of trauma. Building relationships is particularly important as an instructional practice, since research has shown that positive relationships with adults can offset some of the negative effects of ACEs (Arincorayan, Applewhite, Garrido, Cashio, & Bryant, 2017) . The researcher conducted interviews with two elementary teachers in a school with a range of documented instances of childhood trauma within the student population. The interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed; specifically, the transcriptions were analyzed for teachers' reported strategies for building classroom environments and teacher-student relationships, references to suspected or perceived student trauma, and connections to an assessment instrument used by school administrators to assess classroom environment across the state. The findings indicated the teachers in the case study consider their students' backgrounds when thinking about instruction and students' performance inside the classroom. Although the v teachers emphasized students' home lives and pasts, they reported feeling influential when shaping students' experiences within the classroom, highlighting their belief that teachers are a main determining factor in students' success. This study contributes to the literature by presenting rich descriptions of how teachers build their classroom environments to support all students, especially students living with trauma.
doi:10.18122/td/1445/boisestate fatcat:db2mt4vfjrgkhkepmxcc6mtcwm