Negotiating the boundaries of parental school engagement: the role of social space and symbolic capital in urban teachers' perspectives
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Citation (published version)Tina Durand, M. Secakusuma. "Negotiating the boundaries of parental school engagement: the role of social space and symbolic capital in urban teachers' perspectives." Teachers College Record, Volume 121, Issue 2, pp. 1 - 40. https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22585.
As public schools continue to be driven by standards-based accountability practices, scholars contend that family engagement must become more egalitarian, with parents contributing their own insights for the betterment of the entire school community. Classroom teachers are key stakeholders in this process, with enormous potential impact. Using Bourdieu’s concepts of social space and symbolic capital, we examined teachers’ perspectives on their role in engaging diverse parents, using focus group interviews with urban classroom teachers. Multi-layered qualitative analyses elicited three themes that illustrated the powerful, but contradictory, positioning of teachers in facilitating authentic partnerships with families: (a) creating responsive relationships (b) casting engagement as education, and (c) creating varied-and tailored-opportunities, yet also revealed teachers’ assertions of power and authority, most often expressed as a need for boundaries between home and school. A progressive approach to family engagement and educator resistance is discussed, whereby teachers engage in collaborative advocacy with urban families to reclaim the notion of teaching as a public service, aimed at the promotion of equitable, accessible, and culturally responsive schools.