Reciprocal Dialogue Between Educational Decision Makers and Students of Color: Opportunities and Obstacles

Melanie Bertrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: This article explores the possibilities for reciprocal dialogue between educational decision makers and Students of Color. Such dialogue—defined as interactions in which participants build on each other’s words—may provide the means to develop creative ways to address manifestations of systemic racism in education. The article uses the concept of Third Space to investigate how educational decision makers responded to a group of high school Students of Color advocating for change. Research Method: The data for the article come from two studies investigating the influence of the students in the group, who were engaged in youth participatory action research. The analysis focuses on interviews conducted with decision makers who attended the group’s presentations. Findings: The analysis revealed that many educational decision makers responded to the group’s presentations in ways that limited the potential for future reciprocal dialogue with students. These decision makers’ responses most often focused on aspects of the students’ performance at presentations. In contrast, the responses that promoted reciprocal dialogue, which were rare, focused on the content of the presentations. Implications for Research and Practice: The study identifies discursive preconditions of reciprocal dialogue—an aspect of Third Spaces—and demonstrates the potential of such dialogue in challenging systemic racism in education. In light of these insights, future research should examine (a) the relationship of reciprocal dialogue to possibilities for shared decision making and (b) the ways that such decision making may challenge or fail to challenge aspects of systemic racism in education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)812-843
Number of pages32
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 12 2014


  • Third Space
  • educational leadership
  • reciprocal dialogue
  • student voice
  • systemic racism in education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


Dive into the research topics of 'Reciprocal Dialogue Between Educational Decision Makers and Students of Color: Opportunities and Obstacles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this