Building Positive Relationships with Adolescents in Educational Contexts: Principles and Practices for Educators in School & Community Settings

Citation:

Brion-Meisels, G., Fei, J., & Vasudevan, D. (In Press). Building Positive Relationships with Adolescents in Educational Contexts: Principles and Practices for Educators in School & Community Settings. In Toward a Positive Psychology of Relationships: New Directions in Theory and Research . ABC-CLIO, Inc. (Santa Barbara, CA).

Abstract:

This chapter describes a set of principles and practices that underlie positive relationships between adults and adolescents in educational settings, including schools and community-based programs. We begin by describing the critical importance of relationships in supporting adolescent development, noting that positive relationships with adolescents often look different depending on the context in which they occur. Using Sameroff & Chandler’s (1975) transactional model of development as a framework for thinking about positive relationships in educational contexts, we then describe a set of foundational practices that underlie most positive relationships with adolescents: (1) interpersonal practices that build positive relationships with adolescents, and (2) structural practices that build contexts where positive relationships with adolescents can occur. In the first section, we describe interpersonal practices that underlie developmentally appropriate, contextually and culturally relevant, reciprocal, and reliable partnerships with youth; here, we are using the term "partnerships" to flag the existence of reciprocal relationships that work towards shared goals. In the second section, we describe structural practices that foster relationship building: nurturing physical spaces, time and space to build trust, fun, and explicitly addressing institutional inequality. The chapter concludes with suggestions for educational practitioners seeking to build positive relationships with adolescents.