Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Doyle E Stevick


This qualitative case study examines dialogue and discourse patterns between principals and teachers. It analyzes daily verbal interactions in order to identify shared meanings, hidden messages, and the dynamics of power. This study is also based on the belief that democracy in education is vital to maintaining a collaborative, people friendly approach to working together to improve learning for all students.

Although much has been written on the importance of school culture and collaborating effectively, little has been written about the role dialogue plays in shaping school culture. While we know many successful leadership paradigms, including distributed leadership and collaboration, we have no picture of what this looks like in terms of dialogue and discourse. The literature is clear that communication is necessary to develop collaboration and a democratic school climate but is sparse in what communication actually looks like in terms of dialogue and its impact on professional leadership.

This study examines the types of dialogues used by school leaders, the function and impact of horizontal and vertical communication, and the part stories play in democratic leadership. The dialogue and stories were analyzed for their influence on a democratic climate as explored by interviews, data collection, participant observations, and dialogical analysis.


© 2013, Tracie Shelley Prichard