Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Marilyn Hirth

Committee Chair

Marilyn Hirth

Committee Member 1

Deborah Bennett

Committee Member 2

Donna Enersen

Committee Member 3

James Freeland

Committee Member 4

William McInerney


The purpose of this study sought to use qualitative research methods to answer the overarching question: Why do principals trust teachers? This study was generated from a lack of research noted by Wahlstrom, Leithwood, Louis, and Anderson (2010). I created open-ended questions to interview each participant regarding his/her lived experience with trusting teachers. ^ The qualitative data were collected from six principals of the Illinois Principals Association, two from each of the following three categories: zero to three years of their career principalship; four to six years of their career principalship; or, seven or more years of their career principalship. Interviews were conducted and transcribed. A rich, think description of the lived experiences of each participant were coded, themed, and asserted into narrative descriptions. Through analysis of the data, I found that effective educational practices do not create trust in the teacher from the principal; however, the principals trust teachers when they demonstrate professional and ethical behavior. Additionally, when a principal's vulnerability has been violated, the ability to trust teachers is negatively affected. The results of this study are of interest to educational decision-makers as they look at the factors that lead a principal to trust a teacher. Teacher trust of a principal is a well-researched and an imperative construct for school reform leading to continuous improvement; however, not much is known about why a principal trusts a teacher. This study emphasizes the perspective of principals through rich descriptions of principals' experiences with trusting teachers and in dealing with teacher instructional practices. These descriptions have the potential for informing principal preparation program creators of a need to develop skills in the principal that allow them to discover the levels of trust and how to foster those levels of trust in a teacher.