Re-Imagining School Communities: An Exploration of the Factors Influencing Teachers' Trust in Parents
Geller, Joanna Danielle
In the past decade, a wealth of compelling research has demonstrated how trust is a critical precursor to urban school reform. This study examines the multi-level conditions and mechanisms that hinder and facilitate the development of collective faculty trust in families, in other words, the transformation of a school-wide deficit-based perspective toward families into a strengths-based perspective. Data collection occurred in two elementary schools that were labeled as “community schools” and that were part of a place-based initiative for education reform. The dataset included transcripts from 33 in-depth interviews with school staff, observation notes from an in-service professional development program, Teachers Involving Parents, and survey data regarding teachers’ opinions of their school environments. Faculty trust in families was influenced by the extent to which faculty adopted or rejected normative conceptualizations of family engagement, the emotions they experienced interacting with families, and pressures from the educational policy environment that reduced opportunities to develop trusting relationships with families. The extent to which interventions to improve collective faculty trust in families were effective depended on principal buy-in, faculty’s comfort engaging with one another through trusting and innovative dialogue, and the role construction of the community school coordinator. Implications for more effective teacher professional development on family engagement, community schools, and educational policy are discussed.