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While the importance of a professional teacher’s collaboration with diverse families is clearly highlighted in the US Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and in US teaching standards, research consistently reports that teachers feel unprepared to do this aspect of their work. The failure of the teaching profession to grow in partnering with families is a persistent and puzzling challenge in education. In this article, we argue that educators often overlook a critical piece of that puzzle. A foundational step in building effective partnerships with families is the development of relationships with parents. A careful review of the literature indicates that these relationships require intentional development. We offer specific strategies around six key concepts, drawn from the literature, for use by in-service and pre-service teachers. These strategies hold promise to improve professional practice through the building of meaningful relationships with families.


Originally published in Improving Schools 2017, Vol. 20(3) 236–246.

DOI: 10.1177/1365480216674622

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