Op Ed

Young Teachers and Young Writers

Young Teachers and Young Writers
By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D., editor-in-chief

The editorial staff of is making greater efforts to enlist young teachers to write articles on the topic of improving classroom learning. A young teacher from Boston, who is  a Princeton University fellow, writes this month’s article. He will teach this semester at the storied Vajiravudh College in Bangkok. It is significant that the author, Tyler Belanga, places a premium on a trusting relationship between teacher and student. Research bears out the importance of such a student teacher relationship. For example, here are just some of the research findings that support the importance of relationships between students and teachers:

1. Teachers play an important role in the trajectory of students throughout the formal schooling experience (Baker, Grant, & Morlock, 2008).

2. Positive teacher-student relationships enable students to feel safe and secure in their learning environments and provide scaffolding for important social and academic skills (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor, Dearing, & Collins, 2011; Silver, Measelle, Armstron, & Essex, 2005).

3. When teachers form positive bonds with students, classrooms become supportive spaces in which students can engage in academically and socially productive ways (Hamre & Pianta, 2001)

4. Students who have positive relationships with their teachers use them as a secure base from which they can explore the classroom and school setting both academically and socially, to take on academic challenges and work on social-emotional development (Hamre & Pianta, 2001).

As the editors and writers of have said over and over again in its opinion editorials and articles, the key to a successful student centered classroom is the teacher acting as a coach and not simply a lecturer. This means that there must be interactions between students and teachers every day that are significant to the learning process. Such interactions can take many forms: Q and A sessions where all the students have an opportunity to interact with the teacher; individual or group help where the teacher checks a group or individual’s learning progress; and individualized reviews of student journals. Another salient ingredient that goes into maximizing student learning that Mr. Belanga emphasized is the participation of parents in schools. This would appear to be just common sense given the overwhelming and singular influence parents; nevertheless, parents rarely are brought into schools to engage in the learning process with students and teachers. When parents are involved the research proves that:

1. Increased involvement correlates positively with higher student achievement

2. The most likely predictor of a student’s success in school is a home that encourages learning

3. Parents aspirations exert a significant influence on student achievement*

  Over the next six months we hope to bring you more articles from young teachers and writers. We are looking particularly for young Thai teacher scholars. If you know of a young Thai teacher scholar who would like to be published in please be so kind as to refer her or him to me, the editor-in-chief at *The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. Masten, Ann S.; Coatsworth, J. Douglas American Psychologist, Vol 53(2), Feb 1998, 205-220.

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