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The impact of dialogue group participation on teachers' relational pedagogy and climate in their classrooms

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(Thesis) Ph.D.
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ABSTRACT In this research I explored how practising teachers’ participation in a discussion group emphasizing attachment theory and care theory was manifested in their reflections on and understandings of their own practises and their students’ perceptions of classroom climate. Three elementary school teachers participated in a bi weekly discussion group over the period of one school year. Their understandings of the aims of education were assessed at the beginning and end of the study using Selman’s (2003) teacher interview protocol. Written journals kept by the teachers throughout the study were analyzed for themes reflecting the impact of the dialogue sessions on their classroom practises. Students’ perceptions of classroom climate were also measured at the beginning and end of the study. Results suggested the teachers’ understandings of the aims of education reflected a more relational perspective at the end of the study than the beginning. Students’ perceptions of classroom climate changed in the predicted direction, but rarely was the change statistically detectable. Seven key themes emerged from the teachers’ journals. The teachers displayed a commitment to consider, create, and foster positive social-emotional development and caring relationships in their classrooms; they experienced frustration and at times were hesitant to fully implement relational pedagogy; and they expressed feelings of isolation as they realized that relational pedagogy required a supportive and collaborative school environment. While the teachers sometimes missed opportunities to implement relational pedagogy, at times they displayed an awareness of their “mistakes”. At still other times, they displayed success in their attempts to implement a relational pedagogy. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for pre- and in-service teacher education.
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