The Impact of Student–Teacher Relationships on Black Middle School Boys

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Research has consistently shown that Black boys experience opportunity gaps in the American public education system. Beyond disproportionate outcomes in academics and behavioral outcomes, Black boys have less access to mental health support and may experience heightened symptoms due to systemic inequities. Despite many hypotheses, few explanations account for the lived experiences of Black boys. Research indicates that positive student–teacher relationships may increase academic, mental health, and behavioral outcomes for diverse learners. An exploration of the teacher–student relationship that centers the voices of Black males is needed to understand how to best develop a school culture that promotes the well-being of all students. This paper explores Black middle school male students’ perceptions of the student–teacher relationship. Participants included 12 Black boys in a public middle school in two urban districts in the Midwest. Students identified the need to be recognized as individuals, the need for warm, authentic relationships to feel connected to the school environment and acknowledge that racism is a barrier to student–teacher relationships and the overall sense of connectedness. These findings have potential implications for fostering better student–teacher relationships, thereby impacting students’ well-being, identity development, and addressing the student achievement gaps for Black boys.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalSchool Mental Health
StatePublished - Feb 25 2022


  • School Psychology

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