Teachers make difference for new students

Nov. 17, 2008 at 11:02 PM
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BELLINGHAM, Wash., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Having a supportive teacher can make all the difference for a student who has transferred to a new school, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., and the University of Washington in Seattle said moving during the elementary school years may contribute to disengagement with school just before the significant changes of adolescence.

"Our findings support the notion that school changes can negatively affect children, but we also show that supportive social contact with a teacher and peers can influence both academic and behavioral outcomes," lead author Diana H. Gruman of Western Washington University said in the statement. "We suggest that teachers can play a critical role in mitigating the negative effects of mobility through their own caring response and by addressing the peer acceptance of newcomers in the classroom."

The researchers tracked 1,040 elementary school students for four years to determine how moving disrupts children's attitudes toward school and their classroom behavior.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, found that not all mobile students suffer negative consequences. Teachers who were supportive of mobile students had an especially strong influence on their attitudes toward school, the study said.

In addition, teacher support had a positive influence on children's behavior in the classroom.

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