Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Steve Myran

Committee Member

Rachel White

Committee Member

Tony Perez


Virginia Public schools continue to face teacher shortages, and policymakers and school leaders are desperately seeking ways to influence teachers' decisions to stay at school. This multi-site case study of seven elementary schools offers a conceptual framework to examine how teachers' trusting relationships with students and parents relate to working conditions and retention. Teacher interview excerpts, an overall measure of teacher working conditions using the Virginia Climate and Working Conditions Survey (Virginia Department of Education, 2021), and school-level descriptive statistics were analyzed to examine the relationship between teachers' perceptions of trust and other working conditions within their schools. In this study, teachers' trust is closely related to teachers' perceptions of their working conditions. Across class groups previously identified by a latent profile analysis, teachers spoke most often about benevolence, portrayed as respect, competence, reliability in their relationships with students and parents, and the impact of COVID. Teacher trust in students and parents did not appear connected to teacher tenure or the average percentage of teachers who planned to continue teaching at their school. However, school-level teacher retention rates did relate to teachers' perceptions of working conditions through student engagement, relationships among students, relationships between students and adults, and parent involvement. The average years of teaching experience for the case study schools were associated with the teachers' responses on the state survey about managing student behavior and student engagement. The dissertation concludes with future directions for research and implications for teachers and leaders about the underlying reasons for students' misbehavior, the social context of student learning, fostering trust with parents, and paying attention to the currency of trust in strengthening satisfying working conditions.


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