Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Building a Professional Relationship: A Classic Grounded Theory Study of the Experience of Teachers

Catherine Marie A. Villanueva, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change

The purpose of this classic grounded theory study was to discover what teachers valued in their work environment as they engaged in working in a classroom. Using the grand tour question “Can you tell me about your experiences in teaching?” I interviewed 8 participants, using open-ended interviews. Data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis and led to the emergence of the theory of building professional relationships.

The theory of building professional relationships describes how teachers begin working with other stakeholders (clients, colleagues, supervisors, and mentors) in a school setting. Building professional relationships is a shared process between two or more people in which the parties involved form a purposeful relationship to help meet a need, achieve goals, or pursue an opportunity in the work environment. The steps of the process involve making and strengthening connections that mutually aid all parties in meeting their individual needs or goals. The stages of building professional relationships are (1) introduction stage, (2) interacting stage, and (3) results stage. Factors affecting building relationships include compatibility with the other person, having something in common, and specific quality factors, including the personality of the person, similar interests or skills, communication, trust, rapport, work environment, knowledge, and flexibility. Communication, beliefs, trust, expectations/goals, comforting, and respect affect the outcomes of building professional relationships. While people may initiate many professional relationships, not all connections will grow and develop into mutually beneficial relationships. Those that do not will be eliminated either by choice or by changing circumstances.

KEY WORDS: Grounded Theory, Professional Relationships, and Work Environment

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