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Our chat with Dr. Schwartz about student-teacher relationships

This month we are ecstatic to shout out Dr. Harriet Schwartz! Dr. Schwartz is a Professor of Psychology and Counseling and the Chair of Master’s in Student Affairs at Carlow University. We chose to shout out Dr. Schwartz because she is an expert in relational teaching. Her book, Connected teaching: Relationship, power, and mattering in higher education (2019), highlights the impact of high-quality relationships and discusses how professors can strike a balance between connecting with their students and maintaining high academic expectations in the university classroom. One of our founders, Krissy Van Winkle had the chance to sit down and chat with Dr. Schwartz about her recent book, how it is transferable to the k-12 setting, and her experience with the publication process.

Teacher-Student relationships and emotion

I was very curious to learn more about Dr. Schwartz’s new book. The first question I asked her was, what she would like our readers to know about this book? Dr. Schwartz stated that she hopes this book will help readers think more deeply about and have a better understanding of their interactions with our students. She explained that though we don't often talk about it, teaching involves emotion and our relationships and interactions with students also have emotion attached. That being said, it is important for us teachers to be more intentional with our work with our students so that we set the stage for how we might deal with conflict when it arises.

Authenticity, relationships, and boundaries

Developing authentic relationships requires us, teachers, to be authentic, but also to set healthy boundaries for both teachers and students. Dr. Schwartz explained that, “To be authentic, doesn't mean I share everything with students, but throughout the book, part of what I am trying to figure out is how can I bring my most authentic self in a way that still honors the role of the teacher and the differences in power and responsibility between the students and teachers”. I think this is a critical component of teacher-student relationships that we don’t often address. The concept of boundaries is critical, yet as teachers, we may struggle to strike a balance.

Dr. Schwartz’s book and the K-12 setting

Since many of our readers are K-12 teachers, I was interested in knowing the ways in which the practices outlined in the book might be transferable to the K-12 setting. Dr. Schwartz identified three ways in which the practices in her book could be easily applied in K-12 classrooms. She explained that teachers can benefit from the following:

Understanding ourselves in teaching and learning relationships. What are strategies to help us deal with frustrating situations? How can I be intentional about my self-awareness?

Being real about the sociocultural piece. Being reflective and asking ourselves, What is my social-cultural identity? What are my students' identities? What does that mean in terms of what we bring to our shared experience? How does that shape power?

Recognizing failure as an opportunity for learning. Sometimes teachers fail. We look back on our class, lecture, semester, or year and feel that we didn't do as well as we could have or as well we wanted. The strategies outlined in the book are extracted from leadership and workplace literature and therefore are very pertinent and transferable to the K-12 space.

How do you publish a book?

Dr. Schwartz provided incredible insight for those of us interested in publishing a book. She explained step by step how to start the publication process. Dr. Schwartz said this was the most challenging writing endeavor of her life, nevertheless, she said the first time she held the book in her hand, she exclaimed with pride and excitement, “I put all of those words in that order!”. Her process is inspiring! Here are the steps she went through:

Identify publishers who publish books that would reach your intended audience. Publishers will have author guidelines for proposals.

Write the proposal according to publisher guidelines.

There are a variety of requirements a publisher may ask for, below is a sample of the kinds of things they usually ask for:

An abstract

A table of contents

Sample chapters

Your research on competing books or books with similar foci on the market

Your ideas for marketing

Submit a proposal to the publisher

Typically, publishers allow you to submit to multiple publishers at once. Dr. Schwartz submitted several proposals, some sequentially so that she could use feedback from one process to strengthen the proposal for another submission (e.g. after a proposal was rejected).

Feedback with editor

Agree on and submit a timeline to the publisher

Agree on expectations for both the author and the publisher

Identify and agree on publisher and author responsibilities

Discuss and agree on the payment

Start the book

Agree and sign a contract

Get good support and have teams to read chapters along the way

Carve out time to write

Expect it to be challenging and fun

I truly loved having the opportunity to chat with Dr. Schwartz! Her work is so critical and necessary in today’s disconnected society. Dr. Schwartz is offering our readers a 20% discount if they order from the publisher. Use the code CONN20

Here is the publisher link:

Dr. Schwartz has also published two articles regarding race and gender that we encourage you to check out! The links are below:

You may contact Dr. Schwartz at or visit her website She is also eager to connect on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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