Subscribe today to the most trusted name in education.  Learn more.
Current Issue Current Issue Subscriptions About TCRecord Advanced Search   

 

Relational Teaching With Black Boys: Strategies for Learning at a Single-Sex Middle School for Boys of Color


by Joseph Derrick Nelson

Background/Context: Positive teacher-student relationships are critical for Black boys’ learning across single-sex and coeducational environments. Limited attention to these relationships by school professionals is rooted in deficit-oriented conceptions of boyhood and Black masculinity. The popular message of deficiency and pathology is clear: Black boys and men are either dangerous or at-risk and need to be saved. Such narrow conceptions are destructive, operate unconsciously, skew teachers’ perceptions of who boys are, and distort teachers’ efforts to meet boys’ distinct learning needs. A “boy crisis” in U.S. education has been characterized by a set of distressing school outcomes in specific learning categories. Racial marginalization and poverty only serve to exacerbate these negative academic outcomes, whereby low-income Black boys remain in the bottom quartile across all achievement measures. Scholars have recently begun to partly attribute boys’ underachievement to a lack of emphasis on the relational dimension of schools.

Purpose/Focus of the Study: (1) Illustrate how a set of relational teaching strategies supported Black boys’ engagement and learning, and (2) further contribute boys’ “voice” to a counternarrative, which strives to complicate and dispel negative race and gender stereotypes associated with Black males in the United States.

Setting/Population/Participants: This study employs a relational teaching framework to examine the learning relationships among teachers and a full cohort of eighth-grade Black boys (N = 27) at a single-sex middle school for boys of color in New York City.

Research Design/Data Collection: In-depth interviews from a critical ethnography conducted at the school-site (2011–2012) culled boys’ narratives of their teacher-student relationships.

Findings/Discussion: Boys particularly expressed how teachers must foremost convey mastery of course content, with a lucid set of humane behavioral expectations. Narratives from the boys revealed how relationally effective teachers consistently enacted the following gestures: reaching out and go beyond; personal advocacy; establishing common ground; and accommodating opposition. Teachers demonstrated the capacity to acquire and refine relational gestures, but relationship struggles among the boys and their teachers were commonplace. Core findings include: (a) Boys illuminated how specific aspects of the school context facilitated successful enactment of the relational teaching strategies by teachers; (b) teachers’ use of the relational strategies was also facilitated by the social categories of race, gender, and class the boys embodied; (c) boys’ engagement and learning benefitted from positive teacher–student relationships, which ensued after effective use of the relational teaching strategies; and (d) relational teaching with Black boys is not limited to either single-sex or coeducational learning environments.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 6, 2016, p. 1-30
http://www.tcrecord.org/library ID Number: 19961, Date Accessed: 12/11/2017 6:37:26 AM


Catch the latest video from AfterEd, the new video channel from the EdLab at Teachers College.
Global education news of the week in brief.; NCLB; international education; software; This episode explores ten interesting and little known facts about Social Studies.; social studies; humor; media; research; schools; Three seniors at Heritage High School talk about education and what the next President should do about it.; Debates; Heritage High School; NCLB; NYC schools; education; election; girls; interview; politics; presidential election; schools; speak out; students; testing; EdWorthy Theater starring MIT Physics Professor Professor Walter Lewin.; MIT; physics; We feature new content about the future of education. Put us on your website ­ whether you're a student, teacher, or educational institution, we aim to create great content that will entertain and enlighten your audience. http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1078591423http://www.brightcove.com/channel.jsp?channel=1079000717

Site License Agreement    
 Get statistics in Counter format