A case study of the influence of professional friendships among teachers on teacher retention, school culture, teacher performance, and student performance
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The manner in which teacher friendships influence teacher retention, student performance, and the influence they have on the quality of the school’s learning environment has not been studied in great depth. Many studies look at the teacher-principal relationship (King, 2001) and parent-teacher relationship to determine how quickly a teacher will “burnout” (Maslach, 1982; Lynn, 2013), or how successful the partnerships of a school may be in educating students (Epstein, 2011), but neglect the interaction of teachers among themselves. This study investigated the nature of friendship among teachers at one specific Houston-area Pre-K -8 private Catholic school and how those friendships influence the school culture, teacher retention, and student and teacher performance. The purpose of this study is to determine teachers’ and administrators’ perceptions regarding the manner in which professional friendship among faculty influence teacher retention, teacher performance, student performance, and the quality of the school culture. The study was limited to just one participant school, a Pre-K-8 private Catholic school. This qualitative study was conducted in two parts and consists of a focus group of teachers, followed by a semi-structured interview with the school principal. It was found that friendship influences teacher performance and student performance, teacher retention, and the culture of the school. The formation of friendships are the result of time and effort. The principal is a contributing factor to the formation of friendships within the school. Friendship strengthens the community as a whole by unifying the personal and professional lives of teachers. It would be beneficial to conduct this same study again in other contexts, especially those that are not religious in nature, to see how friendship influences teacher retention, student and teacher performance, as well as school culture.
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