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Trusting What You Know: Negotiating the Relational Context of Classroom Life


by Miriam B. Raider-Roth — 2005

How do children understand the ways that classroom relationships shape their capacity to trust what they know? This article argues that students have remarkable abilities to read the relational tenor of their classrooms and shape their spoken knowledge accordingly. Based on an in-depth study with sixth-grade students, this research demonstrates that students' construction of trustworthy knowledge in school depends heavily on the quality of their relationships with teachers and peers. In order to study the relational context of learning, the study employs student self-assessment work as its vantage point. Using the Listening Guide methodology of narrative analysis, the study examines children's understanding of this highly relational school practice as a window for viewing how teacher-student and peer relationships can both augment and constrain children's trust in their emerging knowledge. This research reveals children who vividly portray a process of sharing and suppressing knowledge that relies on their understandings of salient school relationshipsrelationships with themselves, peers, and teachers. The study locates the integral link between students' understandings of these school relationships and their capacity to trust their knowledge and learn in school. The article challenges researchers and teachers to examine the complex relational life in our schools and the ways in which classroom environments can both support and constrain students' ability to trust what they know.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 4, 2005, p. 587-628
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11814, Date Accessed: 8/30/2014 12:11:27 AM

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About the Author
  • Miriam Raider-Roth
    State University of New York at Albany
    E-mail Author
    MIRIAM B. RAIDER-ROTH is Assistant Professor of Education at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests center on the relational context of teaching and learning, children’s and teachers’ conceptions of school relationships, authentic assessment, and feminist qualitative research methods. Her current research, “Teaching Boys: A Relational Puzzle,” focuses on teachers’ understandings of their relationships with boys in school and how these connections shape the learning process. She is the author of Trusting What You Know: The High Stakes of Classroom Relationships (Jossey-Bass, 2005) and “Taking the Time to Think: A Portrait of Reflection” (Teaching and Learning, A Journal of Natural Inquiry and Reflective Practice, 2004).
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