Main article: Discipline in Sudbury Model Democratic Schools
Sudbury model democratic schools claim that popularly based authority can maintain order more effectively than dictatorial authority for governments and schools alike. They also claim that in these schools the preservation of public order is easier and more efficient than anywhere else. Primarily because rules and regulations are made by the community as a whole, thence the school atmosphere is one of persuasion and negotiation, rather than confrontation since there is no one to confront. Sudbury model democratic schools' proponents argue that a school that has good, clear laws, fairly and democratically passed by the entire school community, and a good judicial system for enforcing these laws, is a school in which community discipline prevails, and in which an increasingly sophisticated concept of law and order develops, against other schools today, where rules are arbitrary, authority is absolute, punishment is capricious, and due process of law is unknown.
Since teachers can affect how students perceive the course materials, it has been found that teachers who showed enthusiasm towards the course materials and students can affect a positive learning experience towards the course materials. On teacher/course evaluations, it was found that teachers who have a positive disposition towards the course content tend to transfer their passion to receptive students. These teachers do not teach by rote but attempt to find new invigoration for the course materials on a daily basis. One of the difficulties in this approach is that teachers may have repeatedly covered a curriculum until they begin to feel bored with the subject which in turn bores the students as well. Students who had enthusiastic teachers tend to rate them higher than teachers who didn't show much enthusiasm for the course materials.
Teachers that exhibit enthusiasm can lead to students who are more likely to be engaged, interested, energetic, and curious about learning the subject matter. Recent research has found a correlation between teacher enthusiasm and students' intrinsic motivation to learn and vitality in the classroom. Controlled, experimental studies exploring intrinsic motivation of college students has shown that nonverbal expressions of enthusiasm, such as demonstrative gesturing, dramatic movements which are varied, and emotional facial expressions, result in college students reporting higher levels of intrinsic motivation to learn. Students who experienced a very enthusiastic teacher were more likely to read lecture material outside of the classroom.
There are various mechanisms by which teacher enthusiasm may facilitate higher levels of intrinsic motivation. Teacher enthusiasm may contribute to a classroom atmosphere full of energy and enthusiasm which feed student interest and excitement in learning the subject matter. Enthusiastic teachers may also lead to students becoming more self-determined in their own learning process. The concept of mere exposure indicates that the teacher's enthusiasm may contribute to the student's expectations about intrinsic motivation in the context of learning. Also, enthusiasm may act as a "motivational embellishment"; increasing a student's interest by the variety, novelty, and surprise of the enthusiastic teacher's presentation of the material. Finally, the concept of emotional contagion, may also apply. Students may become more intrinsically motivated by catching onto the enthusiasm and energy of the teacher.
Research shows that student motivation and attitudes towards school are closely linked to student-teacher relationships. Enthusiastic teachers are particularly good at creating beneficial relations with their students. Their ability to create effective learning environments that foster student achievement depends on the kind of relationship they build with their students. Useful teacher-to-student interactions are crucial in linking academic success with personal achievement. Here, personal success is a student's internal goal of improving himself, whereas academic success includes the goals he receives from his superior. A teacher must guide his student in aligning his personal goals with his academic goals. Students who receive this positive influence show stronger self-confidence and greater personal and academic success than those without these teacher interactions.
Students are likely to build stronger relations with teachers who are friendly and supportive and will show more interest in courses taught by these teachers. Teachers that spend more time interacting and working directly with students are perceived as supportive and effective teachers. Effective teachers have been shown to invite student participation and decision making, allow humor into their classroom, and demonstrate a willingness to play.
The way a teacher promotes the course they are teaching, the more the student will get out of the subject matter. The three most important aspects of teacher enthusiasm are enthusiasm about teaching, enthusiasm about the students, and enthusiasm about the subject matter. A teacher must enjoy teaching. If they do not enjoy what they are doing, the students will be able to tell. They also must enjoy being around their students. A teacher who cares for their students is going to help that individual succeed in their life in the future. The teacher also needs to be enthusiastic about the subject matter they are teaching. For example, a teacher talking about chemsitry needs to enjoy the art of chemistry and show that to their students. A spark in the teacher may create a spark of excitement in the student as well. An enthusiastic teacher has the ability to be very influential in the young students life.
See also: Child abuse
Misconduct by teachers, especially sexual misconduct, has been getting increased scrutiny from the media and the courts. A study by the American Association of University Women reported that 9.6% of students in the United States claim to have received unwanted sexual attention from an adult associated with education; be they a volunteer, bus driver, teacher, administrator or other adult; sometime during their educational career.
A study in England showed a 0.3% prevalence of sexual abuse by any professional, a group that included priests, religious leaders, and case workers as well as teachers. It is important to note, however, that the British study referenced above is the only one of its kind and consisted of "a random ... probability sample of 2,869 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 in a computer-assisted study" and that the questions referred to "sexual abuse with a professional," not necessarily a teacher. It is therefore logical to conclude that information on the percentage of abuses by teachers in the United Kingdom is not explicitly available and therefore not necessarily reliable. The AAUW study, however, posed questions about fourteen types of sexual harassment and various degrees of frequency and included only abuses by teachers. "The sample was drawn from a list of 80,000 schools to create a stratified two-stage sample design of 2,065 8th to 11th grade students"Its reliability was gauged at 95% with a 4% margin of error.
In the United States especially, several high-profile cases such as Debra LaFave, Pamela Rogers, and Mary Kay Latourneau have caused increased scrutiny on teacher misconduct.
Chris Keates, the general secretary of National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said that teachers who have sex with pupils over the age of consent should not be placed on the sex offenders register and that prosecution for statutory rape "is a real anomaly in the law that we are concerned about." This has led to outrage from child protection and parental rights groups.