Right from the Start: Critical Classroom Practices for Building Teacher–Student Trust in the First 10 Weeks of Ninth Grade

  • Andrew BrakeEmail author


Teacher–student trust is associated with the social and emotional development of students, their school connectedness and engagement, and their academic achievement. However, few studies have examined how trust develops between teachers and students in ninth grade, a critical year in high school for students to start off on-track. Even less research has examined how teacher–student trust develops from the perspective of students to help identify specific teacher classroom practices that are effective at doing so, particularly at the start of the school year when students’ relationships and connections to high school are just beginning to take shape. Drawing on data from a longitudinal, qualitative study of ninth-grade teacher–student relationships in one neighborhood public high school in Chicago, this study highlights three critical classroom practices that appear particularly effective for helping to build trusting teacher–student relationships during the first 10 weeks of high school. Highlighting the perspectives and insights of ninth grade students, this analysis finds that (1) the priority that teachers place on specific classroom practices, and (2) the timing of when these practices are used by teachers, are both critical in establishing teacher–student trust—an essential ingredient in helping ninth grade students gain important social and school connections during their transition to high school. By highlighting the voices of ninth grade youth, this study provides valuable insights for educators aiming to use specific classroom-based practices that are essential for helping ninth grade students make valuable school connections and get on-track right from the start of the year.


Teacher–student trust Teacher classroom practice School connectedness High school transition 



This research was supported by a grant from the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation (Grant No. 102574). The author gratefully acknowledges Jessica Darrow, Florian Sichling, Hasan Reza, and Ben Roth for their invaluable feedback, insights, and assistance in preparing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Work ProgramNortheastern Illinois UniversityChicagoUSA

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