Negotiating Identity in a Relational Pedagogy: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

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In lieu of an abstract, here is the chapter's first paragraph:

Successful teaching depends mostly in building relationships (Davis, 2006; Huang, 2010; Margonis, 2004; Newberry, 2010; Ritter, 2017). In order to build relationships and teach successfully, teachers must be cognizant of the classroom cultures that affect student behaviour, their learning styles, unique circumstances, ways of being and communicating, as well as the political context in which the work of teachers is situated. Davis (2006) observed that students who perceive supportive relationships with their teachers generally reported feeling more motivated in their classes and received higher grades. In contrast, conflictual relationships are often accompanied by student misbehaviour, expressions of disrespect, and use of the poor relationship quality as an excuse to quit. Relationship building can be very challenging because it includes becoming cognizant of our observations of the other's personality, our interpretation of their motives, as well as our reactions to all of it (Newberry, 2010). The situation may be exacerbated in a cross-cultural teaching context because students may view teachers as a cultural other and act out in resistance to them. As a result, relationship building between the two takes more time and energy (Ikpeze, 2013). Relationship building in a cross-cultural context could be a site where interpersonal and institutional relations intersect (Gomez, Allen, & Clinton, 2004) with possibility for tension and conflict. Faculty in such contexts may go through both external struggles with their students and internal struggles with themselves due to several factors that include personality, otherness, noviceness, and cultural dissonance (Huang, 2010). In addition, feelings of vulnerability and credibility are common due to differences in the social and cultural identities of the teacher and students. These observations speak to my experiences as a foreign-born faculty of color in the first years of teaching. Successful teaching in a cross-cultural context not only involves building pedagogical relationships, but also involves attending to identity issues.




This is a chapter in Fostering a Relational Pedagogy, edited by Ellyn Lyle. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill | Sense, 2018. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004388864

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