In addition to serving as academic leaders, teachers in one-to-one schools are mentors and role models. They constantly communicate that they are on the side of students, believe in students' potential, and are there to help. As a result, students start to believe in themselves and push themselves harder, generally achieving at a higher level and progressing more quickly than expected. When students work with teachers they admire and see as allies, they grow in confidence and persist even when they find the content less interesting.
At Brightmont Academy, we look for the following attributes in our teacher candidates, to deliver the best implementation of one-to-one instruction:
- Student-centered philosophy
- Belief that every student can improve
- Proven strategies for customizing instruction
- Strong content knowledge
- Mentoring skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
One-to-one schools also look for lifelong learners. Many Brightmont teachers are highly accomplished outside of school. They run marathons, hike mountains, breed dogs, manage horse ranches, remodel houses, paraglide, create award-winning quilts, collect insects, sail competitively, and much more. At one Brightmont school, three out of ten teachers are published authors, and students enjoy finding their books on Amazon. These staff are inspiring mentors who connect with students on a personal level.
According to Cornelius-White (2007), teacher empathy, warmth, and positive relationships lead to positive student results, provided that students perceive these attributes as genuine, not superficial. One-to-one schools exemplify this research by recruiting teachers who have compatible personalities to work patiently with middle and high school students, and who demonstrate effective communication skills. Communicating to students that their teachers support and believe in them is often just as important as providing them with the content they need to know.
The one-to-one instruction model enables a learning environment that facilitates healthy and productive relationships between student and teacher. Through a combination of appropriate instruction, adult modelling of great social interactions, and effective mentoring, teachers are able to connect with students and achieve the successes made possible with full student engagement.
Cornelius-White, J. "Learner-Centered Teacher-Student Relationships Are Effective: A Meta-Analysis." Review of Educational Research, vol. 77, no. 1, 2007, pp. 113–143., www.jstor.org/stable/4624889.