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ERIC Number: ED513225
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 215
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8291-7
Teacher Leaders Building Social Capital in Secondary Departments: Three Case Studies
Benedict, Mark R.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The research literature suggests that the existence of trust and strong working relationships between staff are precursors for school improvement (Bryk & Schneider, 2003). Without strong social relations or feelings of trust between school leaders and faculty, school improvement efforts can fail. Within high schools, principals have a critical role in building trust between stakeholder groups. While some literature exists to illuminate how principals enhance trust and social relationships within their schools (Cosner, 2006; Smylie & Hart, 1999), a literature does not exist to chronicle how department chairs build trust and professional norms within their departments. To address this gap, I used a social capital lens to illuminate how three department chairs at suburban high schools build trust and professional norms. After querying principals across two metropolitan areas, I identified three department chairs from three high schools that principals recognized as builders of professional community. In a survey, department members at each site confirmed the existence of high levels of trust between members. I conducted two in-depth interviews with each department chair and one interview with each of three department members. I also conducted observations and collected documents at each school. The chairs identified three leadership activities that were critical in building trust and professional norms. First, chairs used the hiring process to recruit teachers who valued practices that were critical to professional community such as collaboration and observing their peers' classrooms. Second, these chairs modeled attitudes and behaviors congruent with trust and professional community such as admitting their own shortcomings as teachers and sharing their own lessons with other teachers. Third, these chairs engaged in frequent informal and formal one-on-one conferences with their teachers, through which they set and monitored expectations vital to the practice of professional community. Based upon this data, I argue that the role of department chairs in building professional norms and social trust in secondary schools is a critical one. More research is needed to identify the types of leadership activities that are effective for building social capital in high schools. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A