When Principals Don’t Trust Their Teachers


A strong relationship based on trust between principals and teachers is essential for creating a positive and productive school culture. This bond helps both parties work together towards common goals and fosters an environment where students can excel. But what happens when this trust is broken or non-existent? This article delves into the consequences of a lack of trust between principals and teachers, and offers some strategies to rebuild this crucial relationship.

The Effects of Distrust in School Leadership

1. Decreased Morale

When teachers perceive that their principal does not trust them, it can lead to a significant decrease in morale. Teachers who feel unsupported or undervalued may lose motivation, become disengaged, and ultimately perform at a lower level than they would otherwise be capable of doing.

2. Increased Teacher Turnover

A lack of trust between principals and teachers may lead to higher levels of teacher turnover. Teachers who do not feel appreciated or respected are more likely to seek out different schools or professions where they believe their skills will be more highly valued.

3. Hindered Communication

Distrust can result in lackluster communication, leading to misinterpretations, confusion, and inefficiency within the school environment. Open communication channels are essential for problem-solving and collaboration among staff members, but these channels suffer when principals do not trust their teachers.

4. Conflict & Tension among Staff

A principal’s distrust can breed animosity toward colleagues, potentially leading to conflict among staff members. Teachers may feel unsupported by their principal or colleagues when conflict arises, resulting in a toxic environment lacking cohesiveness or collaboration.

5. Poor Student Outcomes

Ultimately, all these factors can negatively impact student outcomes as the quality of education suffers from low teacher morale, high turnover rates, inefficient communication, and conflict among staff members.

Strategies for Rebuilding Trust

1. Open Communication

Encourage open and frequent conversations between principals and teachers to build a level of understanding and respect. Principals should be approachable and actively seek input from teachers while being transparent with their intentions and decisions.

2. Support Professional Development

Principals should prioritize the professional development needs of their teachers, offering opportunities for growth and improvement. This support communicates that principals value their teachers as professionals and trust their ability to enhance their skills.

3. Positive Feedback & Recognition

Offering consistent positive feedback, praise, and recognition for teachers’ accomplishments can help rebuild trust. Principals should celebrate achievements, both big and small, to boost morale and make teachers feel valued.

4. Collaborative Decision-Making

Involve teachers in the decision-making process at the school level. Soliciting input from educators fosters a sense of ownership in decisions involving curriculum choices, scheduling, or policy changes within the school.

5. Monitor & Address Trust Issues

Principals must remain vigilant in identifying any trust issues within the school environment. Listen to teacher concerns, address them fairly, and take necessary actions to cultivate a healthy school culture based on mutual respect and trust.


A positive relationship built on trust between principals and teachers is vital for the success of a school community. It’s essential to recognize the adverse effects that can occur when this trust is absent or damaged. By prioritizing open communication, professional development, collaborative decision-making, acknowledgement of successes, and promptly addressing trust issues, a culture of mutual respect can be cultivated within the school community.

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