High-Quality Parent Teacher Relationships: Collaboration that Creates Culturally Relevant Educational Experiences for Students of Color
Doctor of Education
Laura Wangsness Willemsen
Effective parent teacher relationships (PTRs) have positive impacts on student academic and social achievement; however, families of color often face barriers which limit their access to these relationships. When barriers are removed and collaborative PTRs with families of color are established, teachers can more effectively create culturally relevant experiences for students. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the experiences of teachers that have participated in collaborative PTRs, with a focus on experiences that contributed to teachers’ abilities to establish and maintain partnerships with families of color, and how teachers utilize the knowledge and skills of families to benefit students. Through seven in depth qualitative interviews, White teachers shared their experiences within high-quality PTRs with families of color. Analysis of the data revealed themes in three categories. One category revealed that high-quality PTRs take place when teachers have intercultural competence skills, engage in relational communication practices, and effectively navigate conflict. Another category revealed benefits of a high-quality PTR for students of color, which included teachers gaining more cultural awareness and creating experiences that were more responsive to and reflective of the students in their classroom. The third category provided teacher recommendations for school leaders, which included providing experiences to prepare teachers, cultural and language support for families, and opportunities for families. Based on the data revealed and analyzed in this study, it is evident that students of color benefit from high-quality PTRs as teachers create culturally relevant social and academic experiences for students in the classroom, and it is further recommended that school leaders support high-quality PTRs by 1) preparing teachers for intercultural PTRs and 2) working to remove barriers and create pathways for families of color to high-quality PTRs and FSP.