Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date



One of the most challenging aspects of being a school leader is the struggle to get the school staff to embark on school improvement initiatives. The culture of the school can be a powerful driver in or a resister to our ability to move a school forward to increase student learning. New teachers struggle to understand the culture of the school along with the unwritten norms, values, and customs. As they observe the school culture, beginning teachers try to understand their individual power and role in the school culture. A teachers belief in students can help students enhance their chances of education success in the classroom and beyond. Many new teachers enter the profession with this intent. However, disenfranchised veteran teachers can negatively impact their beliefs and convey a school culture that harmfully changes the beliefs of the new teachers. This study answers two research questions: How are new teachers' beliefs shaped by interactions with a range of veteran colleagues and school leaders? In addition, what impact does this dynamic have on school culture? Face-to-face interviews of the new teachers at the site, a questionnaire for new and veteran teachers, an electronic diary entry, a veteran teacher interview, and an interview with the principal were utilized to collect data for this study. The study finds that the new teachers' beliefs were influenced by their colleagues and by their principal. This influence by their colleagues and by their principal once they entered the profession was both positive and negative, depending on the interactions the teachers had with colleagues. Although formal settings, such as department meetings, staff meetings, and professional learning communities provided time for interaction with a range of colleagues, the informal settings were the spaces in which colleagues had more impact on new teachers' beliefs. Of further interest, the study finds not all of the teachers believed their students were capable of learning, thus having an effect on the overall culture of the school.'


leadership, school culture, teacher acculturation, mentorship, novice teachers, veteran teachers, teacher beliefs, Believers, Tweeners, Fundamentalists, school climate

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Advisor

Borden, Allison

First Committee Member (Chair)

Woodrum, Arlie

Second Committee Member

Preskill, Stephen

Third Committee Member

Bower, David