Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Robert Flanders


Teacher turnover in a large urban school district exceeded the state average annually from 2016 to 2020. Previous studies and local evidence indicate a gap in practice might currently exist, consisting of principals not making the best use of the most effective transformational leadership elements to consolidate and increase teacher retention. While many researchers agree that principal leadership has had the most significant influence on teachers’ decisions to stay in or leave their schools, there is a gap in the literature on what principal leadership practices influence teachers’ decisions to stay or leave. The research question that guided this study addressed what transformational leadership elements principals utilize to retain teachers at their schools. Using Burns’s conceptual framework on transformational leadership to guide the methodology, this study focused on the four transformational leadership elements of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. A basic qualitative study methodology was used to interview nine purposively sampled kindergarten through high school principals in the large urban school district through semi-structured interviews with questions developed around operationalizing the four elements of transformational leadership. Thematic analysis was used to analyze principal responses to identify the elements principals utilize to retain teachers. The findings of this study confirmed that principals utilized all four elements of transformational leadership to retain teachers. This study has the potential to promote social change by providing additional research toward principal leadership practices that may retain teachers and reduce teacher turnover. It may assist school districts in developing professional development and the next steps to support principals in improving teacher retention.

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