Cultural Gap? Connections and Bridges between Teachers and Students

There is a significant cultural gap between white educators and ethnic and linguistic minority students in our nation’s school system. The face of our nation’s school children is changing as the United States becomes more and more racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse. Research in this area converges on the importance of race in student-teacher interaction and subsequent impact on a student’s overall outcomes. However, there is little evidence on the presumed effects of such relationships on student academic achievement. This dissertation defines and explores student connectedness as related to teacher race, as well as both active and passive teacher effects on minority student connectedness as it relates to the mismatch in teacher to student race. Findings indicated three main themes: caring relationships, shared stories, and personal understanding as important factors impacting student connectedness amidst the cultural gap. Areas for future research are suggested and detailed for a study of successful white teachers of minority students.