Interests Informing Dutch Parents' and Teachers' Positioning in their Collaborative Relations

Klapwijk, G. J. (2019). Interests Informing Dutch Parents' and Teachers' Positioning in their Collaborative Relations. EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

To benefit the schooling and development of a child, the relationship between parents and teachers is considered to be crucial in improving social and academic outcomes. Dutch education policy aims to encourage collaborative parent–teacher relations. However, in practice, this seems to be complex. Evaluations of partnership practices in Dutch education have concluded that more action is needed to develop a collaborative culture. This empirical study aimed to contribute to the existing literature by investigating 1) how conflicting positionings inform parents’ and teachers’ collaborative relations and 2) how the transactional positioning of parents and teachers has an impact on possible conflicts and tensions in interaction. The theoretical framework of ‘transactional positioning’ developed for this research draws upon positioning theory, role theory, and the concepts of agency and transaction. A pragmatic approach was adopted and a mixed methods study designed to provide further insight into the positioning of parents and teachers in their relationship. The sample consisted of 367 parents and 80 teachers sourced from five different urban Dutch schools. A questionnaire and group interviews provided interesting insights into the role conceptions and positioning of parents and teachers. The data revealed how strained relations seem to hinder parent–teacher relations and how parents and teachers seem to be located based on the ambivalent ways in which they position themselves. Individual reflections and assessments guide their positioning rather than mutual coordination of the development of their relationship. The framework of transactional positioning provides a useful tool for further research into positioning practices in educational and other areas. The findings of this research have the potential to inform policy and develop practices in schools. This research contributes to new knowledge on parent–teacher relations by revealing the conflicting interests of parents and teachers and providing insight into the transactional nature of positioning in practice.

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