Trust Principles for Principals: Building Relational Trust with Teachers through the Interpersonal and Task-oriented Dimensions of Leadership

Leis, Micela, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Rimm-Kaufman, Sara, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The trust that teachers have in their principal (teacher-principal trust) is essential for positive school reform. This dissertation explores principal actions associated with increasing teacher-principal trust in elementary and middle schools through three independent studies. Study 1 employs a comparative case study design to examine principal actions associated with teacher-principal trust in three elementary schools that began the school year with similar low levels of teacher-principal trust. This study suggests that principals can enhance trust by acknowledging existing conflicts, prioritizing spending time on building relationships with teachers, and empowering teachers by sharing leadership. Study 2 examines the implementation and effectiveness of Leading Together, a unique adult trust-building intervention, during a two-year pilot study with eight schools. This study proposes that implementing Leading Together effectively is associated with increases in teacher-principal trust. Processes needed for successful implementation of the program are discussed. Study 3 examines the relations between principal-driven teacher working conditions and teacher-principal trust in a large sample of fourth through eighth grade teachers in six urban districts across the United States who participated in the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study. This study finds that Teacher Leadership, which refers to teacher involvement in decisions that impact classrooms and school practices, is the only working condition significantly and positively associated with teacher-principal trust when baseline trust is included as a covariate. Collectively, each of the studies in this dissertation contribute to the important question of how to enhance teacher-principal trust in schools.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
teacher-principal trust, relational trust, teacher working conditions, implementation, leadership, building trust, school change, empirical, MET study, Leading Together
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