“They Come from Chaos:” Considering the Power of Stories in Home-School Relationships

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Kristin Lyn Whyte


Complex depictions of home-school relationships examine the often-present gap between teacher perceptions and the lived experiences of families.  One way to address this gap in understanding is by constructing narratives that detail the nuances of families’ involvement, countering potential misperceptions and narrow views.  In addition to using tools such as counter-narrative to speak-back to deficit-laden stories told about marginalized families, researchers must also attempt to deeply understand all stories in order to think through what teachers’ stories mean for how they understand their work.  Thus, this paper presents a case study of a Head Start prekindergarten teacher, showing how her stories about families are related to her identity as a Head Start teacher.  The stories show how power, stereotypes, and perceptions of families relate to her ideas about home-school relationships.  Further, her particular stories ask educators to consider who is responsible for creating chaotic images of families’ lives and what impact do stories characterized by chaos have when they are the ones told about families who live in poverty.

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Author Biography

Kristin Lyn Whyte, Northwestern University

Kristin Whyte is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern's School of Education & Social Policy. Her research interests include home-school relationships, urban education, early childhood curriculum & policy, and qualitative methods.