Relational Teaching Special Interest Group

In partnership with IBSC, Richard Hawley and Michael Reichert conducted two global studies of successful practices in teaching boys between 2008 and 2012. They collected narratives from over 2,000 teachers and 2,500 adolescent boys across approximately 40 schools in six countries, identifying successful teaching strategies with boys. Both groups agreed on the central feature in lessons deemed successful: “Relationship is the very medium through which successful teaching and learning is performed with boys.”

As the results of these studies were presented at schools and conferences worldwide, a common question arose: “How can we enhance the relational skills of our faculty?” To help answer this question, in 2015 Michael Reichert partnered with Scotch College (Australia) and Crescent School (Canada) to develop a Relational Judgment Test for educators of boys. The test provides reliable and valid feedback to teachers and coaches about their relational teaching skills.

Special Interest Group in Relational Teaching

The proposed Special Interest Group (SIG) will include schools committed to developing and sharing expertise in relational teaching and organizational practices that promote it. Collaboration with like-minded schools can leverage programs and best-of-class practices less likely to be sustained in isolation.

Criteria for SIG Membership

  1. SIG schools seek to develop and test research-based instruments (e.g., Relational Judgement Test) and protocols (e.g., Reflective Relational Practice) that build expertise in relational teaching at the professional and organizational levels.
  2. SIG schools seek to share approaches to professional self-reflection, learning, and growth through the career cycle of teachers.
  3. SIG schools seek to identify and work with school organizations, universities, and other educational initiatives to promote research-based approaches to relational teaching.


Interested schools will commit to a two- to three-year involvement with the SIG. Schools will be grouped into clusters of three or four schools to share resources, approaches, and expertise relevant to relational teaching practice.


In the start-up phase, Peter Coutis from Scotch College and Sandra Boyes from Crescent School will coordinate the activities of the SIG, forming clusters of interested schools, providing direction on possible activities within clusters, and sharing key findings across the clusters.


Representatives from SIG member schools, under the guidance of the SIG coordinators, will communicate within clusters, sharing resources, practices, and progress updates via email, shared drives, and regular virtual meetings (e.g., through Zoom). The SIG coordinators will organize virtual meetings of all SIG schools at regular intervals, allowing for the exchange of ideas across clusters and the ongoing development of SIG activities.

When possible, representatives from SIG member schools will seek to gather at IBSC Annual Conferences and to present workshops to assist other IBSC schools in furthering their relational teaching practice.


There are no fees associated with SIG membership. Schools with an interest in having their faculty take the Relational Judgement Test can choose to do so at their own expense, preferably early in their involvement with the SIG.

Initial Activities

Schools “new” to relational teaching might, with the support and guidance of the SIG coordinators, institute a faculty-led committee to establish a baseline of relational teaching awareness and expertise. Baseline considerations could include curricula, recruitment practices, student evaluations of teaching, teacher evaluation/appraisal approaches, and coaching and advising protocols, among other things.

Schools already engaged with relational teaching would be encouraged to institute a PLC or smaller group that would model collaborative reflective practice and pilot initiatives to further develop and improve approaches to relational teaching.

All schools would be encouraged to conduct an organizational “audit” of their relational teaching practices, perhaps using surveys or instruments developed by the SIG and/or the Relational Judgement Test.

Next Steps

Schools interested in joining the SIG should contact:

Peter Coutis
Deputy Headmaster
Hale School (Australia)