Youth from immigrant communities may experience barriers to connecting with schools and teachers, potentially undermining academic achievement and healthy youth development. This qualitative study aimed to understand how educators serving Somali, Latino, and Hmong (SLH) youth can best promote educator-student connectedness and positive youth development, by exploring the perspectives of teachers, youth workers, and SLH youth, using a community based participatory research approach. We conducted four focus groups with teachers, 18 key informant interviews with adults working with SLH youth, and nine focus groups with SLH middle and high school students. Four themes emerged regarding facilitators to educators promoting positive youth development in schools: (1) an authoritative teaching approach where teachers hold high expectations for student behavior and achievement, (2) building trusting educator-student relationships, (3) conveying respect for students as individuals, and (4) a school infrastructure characterized by a supportive and inclusive environment. Findings suggest a set of skills and educator-student interactions that may promote positive youth development and increase student-educator connectedness for SLH youth in public schools.
Keywords: Adolescence; Community based participatory research; Qualitative research; Resilience; School connectedness.