Students’ feelings of connectedness refer to students’ sense of belonging at school, which is fostered through relationships with other students and staff that are respectful, trusting, supportive, and caring. Research shows that connectedness, particularly between students and teachers, related significantly to engagement and academic outcomes, including school attendance, grade point average (GPA), rate of suspension, and test scores. Students consistently report feeling more motivated and more confident in completing their schoolwork when they feel that their teachers care about and support them.
Conversely, students who feel disconnected from their teachers and their academically engaged peers often fail several courses, drop out of high school often, or demonstrate a lack of participation in school. Nearly half the dropouts surveyed in a national poll said the main reason they left school was because classes were not interesting. Almost seventy percent of students surveyed cited not feeling motivated to work hard, and that low expectations held by adults in schools, along with low academic standards, discouraged them from working hard.
A study of Chicago Public Schools found that connectedness between teachers and students was a stronger predictor of students feeling safe within school than the poverty level of students or the crime rate of the neighborhoods where students live.9 Research using nationally representative data also suggests that positive student-teacher relationships predict fewer incidences of misbehavior and violence in school
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