School Connectedness: How Principals and Teachers Can Support Mobile Students

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Student mobility, defined as a change in campus or enrollment status, can cause many negative consequences for students and their schools. These adverse results can include deficits in academic and social success. However, when social capital is intentionally increased for mobile students, the negative impact can be lessened. Through this multisite case study, I aimed to investigate the lived experiences and best practices of principals and teachers of mobile students. Study participants included four principals and 13 teachers, all at schools with mobility rates above the state average. Data collection for this study included semi-structured interviews with the principal participants and focus group interviews with teacher participants. The coding process revealed the following primary themes: processes for support, connections, and challenges. Within those themes, the following subthemes were identified: formal and informal support at the school and classroom levels, school-wide connections for students and families, and classroom connections for students. The final primary theme was challenges for schools, students, and teachers. The findings from this study could be shared with principals and teachers to focus support for mobile families. Results could also be shared with school districts to provide more effective district-level support for campuses and mobile students. Given the impact of mobility on students’ success and the success of schools with large mobile student populations, it is beneficial to discover what can be done to support this vulnerable group of students.

Student mobility, supports, school connectedness, connections