"We're All Doing the Best that we Can": A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study of Novice Principal's Sense-Making of the Transition into the Role of a Principal in the Age of COVID-19
AuthorThompson, Kent Alan
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractNovice public-school principals face tremendous external pressures (e.g., high-stakes accountability, market forces, legitimization) and internal pressures (e.g., identity (re)construction, identity verification, authenticity) in the enactment of their role as a novice principal. These pressures converge in the dissonance of competing values, exacerbated by shifting roles and identities from teacher to leader. This qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study on the lived experiences of five novice principals in southern Arizona investigates the meaning-making and sense-making processes of navigating the transition into the principalship at the tension points of neoliberal accountability regimes and social justice values. Informed by frameworks of hermeneutical phenomenology, sociological identity theory, neoliberalism, and social justice leadership, this study uses a hermeneutic phenomenological research design with methodological procedures modeled on interpretive phenomenological analysis, IPA. Additionally, a hermeneutic circle is woven throughout, charting a path of my journey and work as a researcher and participant. The five study participants, representing a variety of identities, personal histories, and lived experiences, provided experiences, values, and motivations that led to several key findings: Novice principals are largely motivated by their personal values of supporting those around them, specifically the importance of student-centered leadership and practice. Novice principals in this study held values that reflected current neoliberal accountability frameworks of monolithic student achievement over social justice leadership values. Novice principal motives, judgments, and experiences shed light on inadequacies of principal preparation programs and district mentoring efforts, which are exacerbated by neoliberal policy and practices.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Educational Leadership & Policy