Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Green light here, green light there - learning to lead in practice: Critical moments and explorations of a novice principal's leadership and learning
by Simons, Suzanne D., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2015, 248; 3746673
Abstract (Summary)

The need for strong school principals is great as more and more U.S. schools struggle to meet the requirements of federal regulations and as districts search for school leaders who can effect systemic and sustainable organizational change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012) predicts that the U.S. will need an additional 10%, or 23,100 more principals between 2010 and 2020 at a time when the number of available principals is shrinking. In addition to needing more principals, U.S. schools also need more principals who are highly effective. Unfortunately, the turnover rate for principals is drastically high, close to 50% (ERS, 1998) in all schools, and higher still in high-poverty schools (Branch, Hanushek, & Rivkin, 2008; Gates, Ringel, Santibanez, Guarino, Ghosh-Dastidar, & Brown, 2006). High turnover rates, coupled with a diminishing pool of principals, an increasing need for more principals, and the now popular trend of using temporary or turnaround principals, illustrate the school leadership crisis that is enveloping our educational system (Norton, 2002). An open question in the field is how and whether effective school leaders can be purposefully cultivated. Drawing on literatures in the fields of efficacy and school leadership, school leadership development, and optimism, this constructivist study applied qualitative research methods to explore how one novice school leader in an urban PK-5 elementary school learned to lead over an extended period of time, one-and-a-half years. The study investigated the contextual and mediating variables that influenced this novice principal’s choice-making in a watched school in need of improvement. Data collection consisted of regular interviews and observations. By capturing the voice and experience of one principal, this study contributes to the fields of efficacy in school leadership, optimism, and school leadership development a rich example of a principal learning to lead in practice (Darling-Hammond et al., 2007). The study also contributes a new construct, an initial articulation of “assumed possibility” as a theoretical stance. School leader’s enactment and execution of vision are still burgeoning fields of study and this study offers a glimpse into one leader’s attempt to transform his school.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ravitch, Sharon M.
Commitee: Kaminstein, Dana, Lytle, James H.
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration, Early childhood education, Elementary education
Keywords: Leadership development, Leadership efficacy, Optimism, School leadership, School transformation, School turnaround
Publication Number: 3746673
ISBN: 9781339401416
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