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These Are My People: Music Teacher Instructional Practice and School Connectedness


School connectedness, or the sense of belonging at school, is an integral factor in a child’s mental health and overall academic success. Prior research in music education indicates that, among other benefits, music classrooms may provide an environment where students feel they belong. Using 190 student survey responses and reflective writings, five teacher interviews, and nine classroom observations, this study examined the relationship between 7th and 8th-grade student-reported levels of connectedness within their school-based music ensemble and teacher instructional practice. The study found that students reported high levels of school connectedness within their school-based orchestra ensemble and experienced a positive change in an emotional or mental state of mind during music instruction. Teacher instructional practice that de-emphasized competition was found to strengthen self-efficacy, relational value, and form a collective identity within the ensemble. The findings offer important implications for future music teacher instruction to create environments of inclusion, strengthen student-teacher relationships, and promote strategies that enhance student connection to school.

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