Relational Competence and Leadership
Abstract: An increasing number of studies suggest that a positive teacher-student relationship is an important element of successful education. Yet, resources and awareness about how teachers in Sweden can develop skills for supporting positive teacher-student relationships seem to be limited or lacking in popular teaching training programs where almost all focus is put on subject-knowledge and didactics. One potential means of promoting a leadership that endorses a positive teacher-student relationship is through the development of relational competence. Briefly, relational competence can be understood as how the teacher meets a student on a level where the teacher plans his or her actions by knowing the students’ experiences and life situation. This is connected to the teachers' communicative, differentiation, and social-emotional competence (Aspelin, 2018). Such an approach has been demonstrated to be successful in Denmark, where it has been introduced in teacher training programs as well as in the school system. In this paper we investigate to what degree current English teachers in Swedish compulsory school are aware of relational competence as a tool, what features from relational competence do the teacher currently use in their classroom leadership, and what aspects of relational competence teachers perceive as difficult to adopt or implement as a concept. Results show that Swedish English teachers work with relationships in connection with leadership and didactic competence, but that a majority of the informants do not have sufficient knowledge, terminology, time, or training to work with relational competence. Additionally, the teachers find it a challenge to implement the concept when it comes to significantly changing their view in the classroom to include not only the student or situation but the whole interactional situation between teacher and student.
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