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Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

Yesterday, we introduced two relationship-building styles in the classroom, instrumental and reciprocal. Instrumental relationships focus more on behavior control, while reciprocal relationships incorporate shared problem solving and perspective-taking as a focus.

Positive, holistic relationships help students become better critical thinkers, better self-advocates, and more engaged students and citizens. Indeed, studies have found that just engaging students in short conversations each day to get to know them better immediately resulted in more on-task classroom behavior.

To build these relationships, we incorporate these strategies into our instruction:

  • Promoting student choice and control: We teach strategies that focus on the process of learning, encourage change and growth, and provide specific feedback.
  • Communicating high academic and behavioral expectations: This creates a sense of belonging in our sessions and classrooms and promotes academic behaviors.
  • Providing positive, process-based feedback: Feedback about process rather than person leads to student growth from failure and resilience to challenges. Strong relationships treat mistakes as learning opportunities.
  • Building familiarity and interest in the students’ lives: We genuinely care about our students! This allows us to take their perspective and support their self-advocacy along with their learning.

As a result of these relationships, we see students who enjoy engaging in the process of learning. They become stronger advocates for their own learning and growth in high school and college.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

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