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At Risk Youth/Troubled Youth, Relationship Building, Positive Learning Environment, Teacher Perceptions
The BHB Theory (Haggis, 2011) is based on an empirical case study that examined teachers’ perceptions of what they do in their educational settings to create a positive learning environment for troubled youth in their classrooms. Research - including this study - indicates a need for transformational change in how teachers interrelate with students in education environments intended for at risk-youth.
Traditionally, approaches to working with troubled youth have been punitive in design. Research indicates that this approach is counterproductive and that teachers have the opportunity to build capacity for success with at risk-youth through the use of peers; building social competencies; role modeling; relationship building; setting high expectations and fostering student strengths. Understanding what effective teachers working with troubled youth do to create a positive learning environment in their classrooms is critical for identifying factors that influence a positive outcome for students in such programs.
The descriptive case study described utilized a mixed methods approach using teachers within two residential schools.
The BHB study’s data analysis discovered that there was significant agreement among the teacher participants of the study about factors perceived as strongly influential in creating a positive learning environment for their students. Consistent with prior research, these factors included providing a classroom atmosphere that supports positive peer relationships, setting high expectations for student success, encouraging students to take responsibility for their own actions, strong relationship building and generating an environment of trust and respect.
Recommendations for strengthening teacher practice are offered.