Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Megan Tschannen-Moran

Committee Member

Christopher R Gareis

Committee Member

Leslie W Grant


Trusting relationships between teachers and students is a cornerstone of success in the classroom. As a means for continuous professional growth, teachers should have an understanding of other teachers’ positive experiences with and accessible strategies for how to build these relationships. Current research is missing the narrative voices of elementary general education teachers in the discussion on trust in the classroom. In addition to how they can achieve trusting relationships, teachers need support from their principals. This study provides a phenomenological analysis of teachers’ perceptions of their responsibilities and actions that led to trusting relationships with students and the ways their principals have supported or interfered with their efforts. Three principals selected three teachers each to participate in the study for a total of 12 educators. Each of the participants agreed to one interview designed to address the five facets of trust: benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. The interviews were coded to identify additional themes beyond the facets and strategies that support the development of each facet within the themes. Each participant addressed all five facets. Recommendations are presented for policy and practice in the areas of benevolence, openness, and reliability, the three facets that participants addressed most predominately in the interviews, while various forms of communication were the most commonly cited strategies for achieving trusting relationships. Readers will gain access to the heart of teachers’ efforts and how principals support these teachers in fostering high trust relationships with their students. This study helps fill the gap in research and supports teachers with building trusting relationships with students.



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