Professional learning communities (PLCs) are being recognized as a leading strategy to improve student achievement. Trust is critical in effectively implementing the PLC model, and the school principal is best positioned to influence school trust levels. Using Hoy and Tschannen-Moran's (1999) five facets of trust, this research sought to clarify the impact of trust among PLC teachers on their team's collaborative practices. Focus group data were collected from 12 collaborative teams in 4 schools. Six of the teams were from one school that was struggling to implement the PLC model; the other six teams were from three schools that were implementing the model successfully. This research utilized a matched cases case study to understand the relationship between trust and collaboration in PLC teams. Findings suggested the teams in successful PLCs built trust through treating one another with patience and kindness, fulfilling personal responsibilities, and sharing personal information. Additionally, the principal influenced team members' trust by allowing autonomy and team formation input. Perceived benevolence and competence led to teachers sharing teaching strategies, being more open with student data, and teaching one another's students. Also successful and non-successful PLCs emphasized different facets of trust in describing development of trust, the principal's role in building trust, and the role of trust in collaboration. These findings can inform school leaders how to more effectively build and preserve trust among members of collaborative teams such as PLCs.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





Trust, professional learning community, collaboration, principal, teachers, elementary schools, intermediate schools