Come to the edge: one high school teacher's journey of understanding

This paper is primarily directed at teachers interested in action research and self-reflection in order to best understand their pedagogy, their classroom, and their students. In this study, a high school English teacher, engages in a seven-month research project to understand what this study calls The Learning Nexus (the space where optimum student development and academic achievement is created and sustained through specific teacher behavior and pedagogy). As she negotiates ambiguities and findings about her pedagogy, her classroom, and her students, she becomes aware of how her teaching strategies using student journals, videos, and student letters affect student academic achievement and development. Using grounded theory and action research as methodology, this inquiry derives its logic from a review of relevant literature coupled with experiential participation, observation, and documentation of the realities of a high school teacher, her students, and their classroom. What this study reveals is the powerful impact individual teacher-student relationships have on student motivation, risk, and the learning process; and the ways a teacher can drive this process to elicit profoundly positive academic and developmental growth for students. Keywords: teacher-student relationships, action research, teacher inquiry, the learning nexus, student motivation, high school classroom relationships