Learners' perceptions of respect in educator-learner relationships in a secondary school community
From a positive psychology perspective, the last few decades have seen continuous growth in research emphasising well-being in school communities. Schools should be viewed as spaces that enable life success, as opposed to mere learning environments aimed at academic success. Well-being is often associated with relational well-being and building, enhancing and maintaining positive relationships at schools. Along with academic performance, relational well-being is vital to learners' current and future development. Such social well-being may, in turn, affect psychological well-being positively, as these two influence each other greatly. In this context, positive educator-learner relationships must be based on mutual respect, as it may provide a vast array of benefits to secondary learners' well-being and academic performance. Moreover, positive interpersonal connections between educators and learners based on mutual respect are valuable tools for managing effective discipline in classrooms, which means that educators also benefit from protecting and promoting good relationships with their learners. Positive educator-learner relationships are highly relevant for secondary school learners living in high-risk communities, where support and resources for enhancing and developing their psycho-social well-being are limited. For such leaners' school is often the only safe and supportive environment they have. It is therefore imperative to bring the personal into the educational environment by building, enhancing and maintaining respectful educator-learner relationships based on mutual respect. However, educator-learner relationships have specifically been neglected in regard to learners' perceptions of respect as experienced from and given to educators. Due to the identified gap in the literature, the main aim of this study was to qualitatively explore and describe, through qualitative, phenomenological research design, learners' perceptions of respect in educator-learner relationships in a secondary school community within a high-risk environment in the South African context. The participants for this study were fifteen secondary school Grade 12 learners. The data were gathered in two phases, namely written assignments, and, the World Café technique was applied. Thematic analysis was used to identify relevant themes. The findings revealed three main themes, and each theme includes several sub-themes. Firstly, respect is well-intended behaviour, with the sub-themes being listening and paying attention; good communication; obeying educators and school rules; good manners such as being helpful, polite and kind, and greeting others; saying thank you and please; academic responsibility; and receiving support and praise from educators. Secondly, respect is positive relationships, with the sub-themes being building a relationship; parent-child relationship; as well as trust and confidentiality. Thirdly, respect is consistent, fair and mutual, with the sub-themes being respect as a two-way street; respect as something to be earned; respect as something that is consistent over time; and respect that means treating everyone equally, fairly and with acceptance. It can be summarised that all participants' responses illustrated a collective yet subjective learners' perceptions of respect in educator-learner relationships in a secondary school community within a high risk community in South Africa. For further research it was recommended to gain better understanding how learners in secondary school communities perceive respect in educator-learner relationships in regard to various cultures.
- Humanities