Teachers who intervene gently, forego punishment, work at bonding, and ensure student success can help at-risk students make positive changes in their lives and in the classroom.
In their classic study, 400 Losers, Ahlstrom and Havighurst (1971) were chagrined to discover that their six-year-long, intensive intervention program did not help a group of at-risk youth find success. But, to their surprise, a handful of the participants did turn their lives around. The adolescents who “made it” all had one experience in common: Each had developed a special relationship with either a teacher or a work supervisor during the treatment program. These adults valued the students, treated them as individuals, and expressed faith in their ability to succeed.
A strong relationship with an adult enables an at-risk youth to make life-altering changes. Educators can use specific strategies to develop these nurturing relationships, as one teacher's story demonstrates.
The Chocolate Milk Incident