Consistently, we see research that shows many learners need to have some kind of personal connection to a teacher in order to truly learn – particularly minorities and boys (and even more particularly, minority boys).
I know that was one of my struggles as a student. If I had a teacher that I thought cared about me (even if I did not especially like them) or found something about me worthwhile, I was a much better student. If I was so lucky as to have a teacher that I really connected with, I would strive for greatness. My favorite teacher threw erasers at my head and praised my writing, and I would have crucified myself for his high opinion. Likewise, if I had a teacher that pretty clearly did not care about me, I didn’t care much to learn. If the teacher outright disliked me or embarrassed me, I would rather have an F than give them anything. It wasn’t a very successful, mature or bright plan, and it punished me not them, but there you have it.
Here are some various websites that look at the research for establishing those personal connections and/or offer ideas on how to create those connections: