Promoting positive relationships

Building Resilience
in Children and
Young People
Promoting Positive
Teacher Professional
Promoting Positive Relationships
Positive relationships promote student wellbeing and
engagement in learning
Effective approaches to building resilience include an emphasis on
fostering positive teacher-student and peer relationships
Relational aspects of this approach include:
• Positive approaches to managing student behaviour
• Positive and supportive teacher-student relationships
• Positive and supportive student-student relationships
• Strategies to identify and address bullying
• High but achievable expectations for student learning and
Promoting Positive Relationships
Positive teacher-student relationships promote
Teacher interpersonal behavior has a powerful effect on levels of
student engagement
Research shows that positive teacher-student relationships are
significantly associated with increased:
• Behavioural engagement: participation, punctuality, concentration and
effort applied to tasks
• Emotional engagement: students are enthusiastic and keen to learn
• Cognitive engagement: students are able to formulate their own
learning goals, and believe in the importance of their academic
Promoting Positive Relationships
Positive teacher-student relationships are especially
important for students ‘at risk’
A meta-analysis of 99 research studies found that positive teacherstudent relationships were linked to increased student engagement
and achievement, and negative teacher-student relationships were
linked to poorer student engagement and achievement
Students labeled as ‘at risk’ were more strongly influenced by the
quality of the teacher-student relationship than those labeled
The motivating effect of positive teacher-student relationships is even
greater for high school students than for younger children
Roorda et al., 2011
Promoting Positive Relationships
Teacher interpersonal style and engagement
Students’ perceptions of teachers’ interpersonal behaviour are
strongly associated with student engagement
Two critical factors influence high engagement including the
perception by students that :
 the teacher has positive authority and influence over the class and
 the teacher trusts, respects and has positive regard for the students
• Students appreciate it when their teachers are firm in their class
management, whilst also demonstrating a friendly, fair and respectful
Van Uden et al. 2014
Promoting Positive Relationships
The ‘little things’ that teachers do that make a
difference to student resilience
Johnson’s longitudinal research with students in South Australia
highlights the importance of everyday interactions between students
and teachers
Students said it is ‘little things’ that teachers do that make a big
difference, such as:
 listening to students
 explaining things when asked and helping them with school work
 maintaining hope and encouragement for progress in the student’s
 treating students with respect
• Encouragement, assistance and formative feedback helps keep students on
Johnson 2008
Promoting Positive Relationships
Students say it’s good when teachers:
treat you with respect
still speak to you when they don’t teach you anymore
smile and say hello
take an interest in you
notice when you try
notice when you’re down
encourage you
make work interesting
let you make mistakes
know your name
talk to everyone
trust you
like you
celebrate sometimes
set practical activities
have fun
Cahill et al., 2004
Promoting Positive Relationships
Students say it is bad when teachers:
blame you when it was someone else
refuse to believe you
talk on and on
make sarcastic jokes
tell you you’re a bad class
have favorites
hold up your mistakes
embarrass you in front of the class
put you down
tease you
compare you to your brothers or sisters
Cahill et al., 2004
Promoting Positive Relationships
Building Positive Relationships
One way in which the activities in the Building Resilience SEL lesson
materials encourage students and teachers to strengthen their
relationships is through working to increase the awareness of the strengths
of every person in the classroom
The activity in the next slide provides an example:
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Activity: Qualities that I admire
•Think about a person that you admire,
or respect in some way. This must be
someone who you have actually met in
person. They might be someone close to
you, such as a relative, friend or
•Draw a stick figure. In the space around
the person, brainstorm the ‘qualities’ or
‘strengths’ or things that you admire
about this person
•Share the qualities you chose with a
person sitting nearby
This activity has been adapted from the Level 7-8 Building Resilience learning materials
(Topic 2: Personal Strengths, Activity 1)
Promoting Positive Relationships
Positive peer relationships
•The quality of peer relationships significantly influences
students’ overall experience of school
•Positive peer relationships (friendship, support and inclusion)
are a protective factor linked to positive educational
outcomes, reduced risk taking and mitigation of other existing
risk factors
•Negative peer relationships, such as those related to bullying,
have a significant negative impact on student wellbeing
Holfve-Sabel, 2014
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Activity: Sharing Acts of Kindness
1.Close your eyes and remember a time
when you were friendly to another adult
or to someone in your family. What were
you doing?
2.Share the memory with the person
next to you. Share some ideas with the
3.Choose one friendship act which you
have completed at some time, and draw
a picture of this
4.Add a caption or short story to go with
your picture
5.Arrange a ‘gallery showing’ and
explanation of the pictures
What practices do teachers in this
school use to show kindness to
each other and to their students,
and to encourage students to
show kindness to each other?
*Students develop awareness
of their strengths by sharing
stories of themselves initiating
kind actions. This sharing builds
a sense of pride and
recognition of the importance
of caring in friendship and
This activity comes from the Level 1-2 Building Resilience learning materials (Topic 1:
Emotional Literacy, Activity 4)
Promoting Positive Relationships
Bullying in Australian Schools
Bullying is one of the
top 5 issues of concern
for young people aged
11-14 and a common
concern for children aged
5-14 calling kidshelpline
1 in 10
Australian young people
every few weeks or more
More than
1 in 4
Year 4-9 students
Experience bullying
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Reflection
• Where is bullying happening in your school?
• Which students are most affected by bullying?
• What bullying prevention and response strategies
are in place in your school?
• Are there patterns of racist or homophobic
bulling which need strategic attention?
• How is the school helping students to form positive
relationships across divides of age, culture, gender,
ethnicity, religion or interests?
Promoting Positive Relationships
Bullying and Mental Health
Both bulliers and victims are more likely to suffer from mental health
Dake et al. (2003) found that:
• Bulliers are over 4 times more likely to suffer depression and over 3 times
more likely to suffer anxiety. They are also more likely to suffer poor physical
health, fight, cheat, use drugs, vandalise, truant, carry a weapon, get in trouble
with the police, date earlier and be more aggressive to dating partners
• Victims of bullying are 4 times more likely to suffer depression and to
experience physical health symptoms, loneliness and negative self-esteem
• Those who are bulliers and victims are over 6 times more likely to suffer from
depression and over 8 times more likely to suffer from anxiety
Dake et al., 2003
Promoting Positive Relationships
Promoting Positive Peer Relationships- What does
the Research Say?
• A meta-analysis of 44 bullying prevention evaluations found the
following program elements to be associated with a decrease in bullying
and victimisation:
 Intensive programs (e.g. number of hours)
 Programs with longer duration
 Programs including parent meetings
 Firm disciplinary methods
 Improved playground supervision
• Other research highlights the importance of a systematic whole-school
approach to prevent and manage bullying
Ttofi and Farrington 2011
Promoting Positive Relationships
Components of a whole school approach to
bullying prevention/response
teacher training
improved playground supervision
positive disciplinary methods
cooperative group work between professionals
school assemblies
information for parents
parent training or meetings
classroom rules and classroom management
whole-school anti-bullying policy
supportive school culture
proactive policies, procedures and practices
shared school community key understandings and competencies
protective school environment
school–family–community partnerships
Farrington and Ttofi (2011)
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Activity: Help-seeking Scenarios
What are the possible helping or help-seeking actions students could take.
For each scenario, discuss:
• What could other students do to help?
• What could s/he do?
• Who could s/he ask to help?
Scenario 1: Hamish is often ignored
by the other students and is
sometimes teased and laughed at.
The teacher does not know that this is
happening as no-one teases him in
front of the teacher
Scenario 2: A teacher is concerned
about a colleague who is showing
signs of stress and burnout, but is not
sure whether to say something to this
colleague or to the school leadership
What could the teacher do
to help?
How should they respond to a
help-seeking student?
How should they respond to a
distressed colleague?
This activity comes from the Level 3-4 Building Resilience SEL learning materials (Topic 6: Helpseeking, Activity 2)
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Activity: Using Strengths in Ethical Dilemmas
Example scenario: WORRIED
Annabelle is worried about a friend who is down. She has not bounced back since her
relationship broke up six months ago. The friend has confided in her that she has suicidal
thoughts, but she asked her to promise not to tell anyone, especially not her mother. But
now Annabelle is really worried about whether she should keep this promise.
• What could Annabelle do? Identify the positives and negatives of each choice, then
propose a piece of advice
• Identify which strengths you think that someone would need to call on to carry out the
advice (e.g. perspective, bravery, persistence, integrity)
• Check your advice: Is it safe? Could anyone come to harm? Is it legal? Is it fair? How
will it affect others? How will you feel about it afterwards?
• Collect responses from the group
This activity has been adapted from the Level 9-10 Building Resilience SEL materials (Topic 2: Personal
Strengths, Activity 2)
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Activity: Active Listening and Peer Support
Active listening involves the listener in feeding back what they hear to the speaker,
putting what they have heard in a summary in their own words. This allows the speaker to
correct them if they have misunderstood or shows the speaker that they were
understood. It can also help the speaker to clarify what they are thinking or trying to
communicate. Active listening can also involve picking up on the person's body language
and emotion and feeding back on that. It is a way of showing that you understand what
the speaker is saying or feeling.
1. Work in pairs to try out the active listening technique
2. Person A will be the speaker, and Person B the active listener
3. Person A should think of something they want to complain about.
Person B should ask them how they are, then Person A begins their
complaint, and Person B tries out the active listening technique
4. Role swap, then ask for feedback on how it felt for the speaker and for
the active listener
This activity has been adapted from the Years 11-12 Building Resilience SEL materials (Topic 3: Positive
self-talk: Dealing with performance challenges, Activity 3)
Promoting Positive Relationships
Group Activity: Explaining How You Feel
Making Assertive ‘I’ statements:
Feeling first: I feel
(say how you feel) when
(make your request here)
Situation first: When
(state the action),I feel
(make your request here)
(state the action), so
(say how you feel), so
• Put the group into pairs and ask them to help each other to design
and practice an ‘Assertive I statement’ that is relevant in their life.
• Ask some volunteer pairs to perform one of their ‘I’ statements and
then ask the group to give feedback: Was the character being
assertive? What did they do well? What could they have done
This activity is adapted from the Years 11-12 Building Resilience SEL materials (Topic 5: Safer
Socialising, Activity 2)
Promoting Positive Relationships
•What do you do to get to know the students
in your classes?
•What do you do to help them to get to know
each other?
•How do you transmit the fact that you care
about their wellbeing and learning?
•What do you do when you observe
instances of bullying?
Promoting Positive Relationships
Useful Links
• Bully Stoppers (DEECD) aims to strengthen bullying prevention
and empower everyone to make a stand and become a bully
stopper, reducing incidences of bullying in Victorian schools:
• Student Inclusion and Engagement Guidance provides advice,
resources and strategies for schools on developing a Student
Engagement Policy, promoting positive student behaviour and
responding to challenging
Promoting Positive Relationships
• Anderson, Amy R., Christenson, Sandra L., Sinclair, Mary F., & Lehr, Camilla A. (2004). Check & Connect: The
importance of relationships for promoting engagement with school. Journal of School Psychology, 42(2), 95-113
• Cahill, Helen, Shaw, Gary, Wyn, Johanna, & Smith, Graeme. (2004). Translating Caring Into Action: an Evaluation of the
Victorian Catholic Education Student Welfare Professional Development Initiative. Research Report Series. Melbourne:
Youth Research Centre, The University of Melbourne.
• Dake, Joseph A., Price, James H., & Telljohann, Susan K. (2003). The Nature and Extent of Bullying at School. Journal
of School Health, 73(5), 173.
• Fredricks, Jennifer. A., Blumenfeld, Phyllis. C., & Paris, Alison. H. (2004). School Engagement: Potential of the Concept,
State of the Evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59-109
• Johnson, B. (2008). Teacher-student relationships which promote resilience at school: a micro-level analysis of
students’ views. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 36(4), 385-398.
• Roorda, Debora L., Koomen, Helma M. Y., Spilt, Jantine L., & Oort, Frans J. (2011). The Influence of Affective TeacherStudent Relationships on Students' School Engagement and Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Review of
Educational Research, 81(4), 493-529.
• Ttofi, M.M., & Farrington, D.P. (2011). Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: a systematic and
meta-analytic review. J Exp Criminol, 7, 27-56.
• van Uden, J.M., Ritzen, H., & Pieters, J.M. . (2014). Engaging students: The role of teacher beliefs and interpersonal
teacher behavior in fostering student engagement in vocational education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 37, 21-32.