Establishing positive relationships with secondary gifted students and students with emotional/behavioural disorders: Giving these diverse learners what they need
Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education
The relationships between teachers and their students play a vital role in the creation of positive learning outcomes and environments for all learners, but particularly for those individuals with diverse needs. This study examined the teacher behaviours that contributed to positive student-teacher relationships with gifted secondary students (GS) (N=58) and with secondary students with Emotional/Behavioural Disorders (EBD) (N=40) in Western Australia. Valued teachers' behaviours were identified through a mixed-methods approach that included surveys and student focus groups. The data indicated that GSs valued teacher behaviours that promoted cordial and friendly interactions between teachers and students to the extent that these behaviours supported and extended student learning. While the importance of academic support was foremost in the minds of GSs, students with EBD instead valued teacher behaviours that displayed warmth, understanding and patience. For EBD students, these behaviours are the precursors to teachers supporting them in their learning. Comparisons between the behaviours that were identified by gifted students and students with EBD revealed a set of core behaviours that were deemed essential for developing positive relationships with both groups, but that each group specified a set of behaviours to address their unique needs.