Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2017


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (ProDEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Anne Marie FitzGerald

Committee Member

Rick McCown

Committee Member

Jennifer Edwards


Care; Critical Race Theory; Cultural Care; Culturally Relevant Pedagogy; Equity; Invitational Education


This dissertation in practice investigates teacher perceptions of the influence of cultural care and invitational education (IE) on the formation of a positive teacher-student relationship with students of color in an urban elementary school. Cultural care is a theory of practice that utilizes a social-emotional approach for school improvement and to promote positive student outcomes. It is defined as a verbal or nonverbal gesture that displays a genuine interest in another person’s social, emotional, mental, and physical well-being; simultaneously recognizing and acknowledging race and culture as a vital part of a person’s identity. Cultural care must include respecting, valuing, and embracing culture from a value- and strengths-based perspective. Conducted through qualitative participatory action research, this study examined teacher practices and perceptions in order to evaluate the influence of cultural care. The study utilizes elements of the theoretical frameworks of IE, culturally relevant pedagogy, critical race theory, and self-efficacy theory. The findings were derived from analyses of pre- and post-intervention implementation, recorded observations and notes, and artifacts that were generated as a result of participation in a professional learning community that was focused on equity and care. Findings indicated the importance of teachers listening to students with intentionality; recognizing students’ basic and academic needs; and acknowledging students’ presence, behavior, and growth, including making gestures of concern. Also, emergent in the findings was the significance of educators developing self-reflection and self-awareness as a part of practice, sharing personal experiences and stories, and engaging students in nonacademic conversations to facilitate positive relationships with them. One unexpected outcome concerned student-initiated conversations on race. The participant educators reported that students were comfortable in talking and asking questions about race-related topics that are often difficult to discuss. Recommendations for practice and future research were given.