Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Narratives of new principals: Facing challenges and finding support
by Magee, Constance McKivett, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2011, 273; 3483945
Abstract (Summary)

There is little knowledge on how to best prepare urban principals to succeed in challenging schools. Current preparation and support is based on leadership theory, not experience. This narrative inquiry study examined the experiences of new urban principals as they transitioned into their role during their first year. The research questions focused on the challenges new principals faced and the types and effectiveness of the support they were offered. These stories give new principals a voice in the literature and their experiences can help inform future preparation and support for new principals.

The findings were organized in individual narratives addressing each of the research questions, the conceptual framework, and the three commonplaces of narrative inquiry. Each case was unique; however, there were common themes across the four cases. The five common themes revealed were, trust, team, time, tension, and transformation. These new principals re-cultured their schools while facing various levels of resistance to change from students, parents, staff, and the communities. Their stories did not follow the predicted path of survival to comfort in the role of principal. They transitioned into comfort weeks into the job, alluding to their preparation as a key factor in their success as new principals. This confirms the importance of internship-like experiences in similar schools, prior to becoming principal.

Findings also confirm the literature on first year principal placement in challenging urban schools. Theses principals addressed student behavior and campus appearance before shifting their attention to classroom instruction. This order of action is also present in the literature on successful urban principals in challenging schools. Findings confirm the effectiveness of coaching and mentoring. Time, fit between coach and new principal, feedback, and experience were important factors in successful principal coaching. Surprising findings included the power of networking with outside districts to improve experienced principal practice and the need to support the managerial, instructional, and emotional needs of new principals. Changes of principal workshops were an exceptionally helpful district support. Recommendations address district level reform, concluding with a proposed model for changing challenging schools. Recommendations for further study are also presented.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Symcox, Linda
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration
Keywords: Challenging schools, Changing challenging schools, First-year principals, Middle school, New principals, Principal support, Urban education
Publication Number: 3483945
ISBN: 978-1-124-99343-0
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