State policy and teacher evaluation rubrics increasingly call for attention to family and community engagement. Yet teachers, schools, and families continue to face a number of obstacles preventing collaboration on all sides. Research on culturally responsive teaching, funds of knowledge, and community teaching have identified a number of concrete principles and practices for educators to partner with families and communities. However, teacher education programs continue to struggle in crafting authentic experiences for pre-service teachers to partner with families and communities. This study examines regionally-based, small group discussions– which, were part of a larger programmatic set of experiences–between preservice teachers and partnering community mentors in one teacher education program. Using narrative analysis, the authors found that conversations revealed layered engagement mediated by levels of trust and pre-existing expectations.

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community mentors and teacher candidates in group discussions

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one of the larger town-hall style, panel events

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a panel of local community activists and educators

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a group discussion during a panel event