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The Power of Relationships in Schools

A PARENTS' VIEWPOINT - National Survey

Our world is changing daily, but one thing remains clear: teacher-student relationships are a key factor in all young people’s development. Search Institute is sharing new insights that show parents overwhelmingly agree that the relationships teachers forge with students play an important role in their growth, and that parents value these relationships and the positive impact they have on young people. Learn more about these insights.

Relationships are at the core of young people's development.

As educators and administrators transition out of the educational field at increasingly high rates, the educational sector is pushing for change, but relationships remain at the heart of youth development and progress.

The survey results show parents overwhelmingly agree that the relationships teachers forge with students play an important role in their growth.

  • More than half of parents surveyed believe that a strong student-teacher relationship has a positive impact on their children’s growth and strengthens the priorities that parents have for their children.
  • Of those polled, approximately four out of five parents reported somewhat or very strong relationships between teachers and their children.
  • 74% of parents reported that teachers actively built strong relationships with their children.
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Despite an increase in polarized political and social landscapes, parents are not as divided in their views on the importance of student-teacher relationships. There were no group differences across race/ethnicity, family income, parent marital status, parent employment, child gender, child Individualized Education Program (IEP) status, or child school type.

Parents see teachers as partners in young people's growth.

The teacher-student relationship is correlated with the teacher-parent relationship: teachers and parents are both important, interrelated socializers for young people’s growth. The higher parents rate their relationship with their child’s teacher, the better they perceive the relationship between teacher and child.

More than 60% of parents surveyed reported somewhat or very strong relationships with their children’s teachers. However, there is room for growth.

Trust is critical to building relationships and in fact is associated with the quality of parent-teacher relationships and parent perceptions of the quality of the relationship between teachers and their child.

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When presented with the five elements of Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework—Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, Expand Possibilities—parents surveyed indicated that all five elements were nearly equally important for teachers to demonstrate.

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Carving the path forward. Systemic change requires a community approach with young people at the center.

In order to effectively promote thriving among all young people, parents, educators, out-of-school and afterschool time practitioners, mentors, and others must agree that all young people deserve to be valued, protected, and have basic needs met. With that agreed upon understanding, these groups can work together to build meaningful relationships and encourage young people to thrive.

"All young people deserve to be valued and protected and to have their basic needs met."
Dr. Ben Houltberg CEO, Search Institute

About the Survey

Search Institute commissioned YouGov to conduct a national web-based survey of U.S. parents of school-age children. Building on Search Institute’s work over the last decade, the survey focuses on understanding parents’ perceptions of the role of relationships between young people and their teachers and how to support educators and leaders to bring the value of Developmental Relationships to life.

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Developmental Relationships

Close connections that help young people cultivate their abilities to shape their own lives, build resilience, and thrive.

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Resources Hub

A research-based collection of tools, activities, measures, and other resources designed to support educators and leaders.

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Practical Solutions

Professional learning, surveys, and practical solutions to support educators and leaders in helping young people to succeed and thrive.

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