Understanding the Principalship: An International Guide to Principal Preparation: Volume 19


Table of contents

(23 chapters)
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The cutting edge contributions in this thoughtful volume underscore what we know and need to know about how to effectively prepare new principals in international contexts. With contributions from Australia, Mexico, First Nations principals in Canada, England, Spain, Kenya, Latin America (Brazil, Chile, and Argentina), and the United States, these intriguing new case studies from the ISPP (International Study of Principal Preparation) utilize a variety of lens – relational and instructional leadership, political acumen, entrepreneurialism, environmental education, and cultural self-awareness among others – to explore how novice principals develop their craft. It should prove essential reading for those who aim to prepare the next generation of 21st century school leaders who are responsive to both local and global contexts. Highly recommended.

Content available

The contents of this book and its articulation of the changing contexts, emerging trends, and challenges that new and aspiring school principals must contend with reveal a complex and protracted genesis over several years.

This introductory chapter provides background information and an organizational structure for the book. The authors begin with a brief history of the research project that undergirds the work presented in each chapter. Drawing from the fields of enology and viticulture, the authors introduce the concepts of terroir, millerandage, and appellations as section headings that help to frame brief descriptions of each chapter. The authors conclude with an invitation for the reader to engage with the authors in a discussion about the contents of the book.

This chapter examines the intricacies of researching the initial preparation of school principals. First, the case is made for the importance of researching this formative stage in a principal's career trajectory. Second, an alignment is described between theory, research, and practice for informing fruitful approaches to preparation for the principalship. Third, a framework is articulated comprising four focal points portraying the complexities of principals' work. It is suggested that this framework could be used as a heuristic tool for connecting with the realities of the principal's world and the professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are required to perform the role effectively.

Drawing upon findings from the International Study of Principal Preparation and scholarly literature this chapter presents an analysis of predominant principal preparation experiences. Formal, informal, and experiential leadership development opportunities are identified and discussed in relation to their advantages and disadvantages in preparing novice and aspiring school leaders to take up their exacting roles in 21st century schooling environments. We conclude by advocating for a range of preparation experiences that are continued throughout leaders' careers and for authorities to consider measuring the effectiveness of these programs to ensure maximum impact for the expense expended.

This chapter presents a rationale for the International Study of Principal Preparation, provides an overview of the study, offers descriptions of the assumptions that should underpin the pre-appointment experiences of school principals, and describes the context of the principalship. The chapter will close with commentary intended to assist and guide designers and providers of principal preparation programming.A central point of this chapter is that it is unlikely that a template for principal preparation can be designed for application in all settings. Indeed, attempts to create such a template are likely to result in culturally and educationally inappropriate approaches to leadership development and to ineffective principals. Instead, leadership development is best approached through a thoughtful and reflective awareness of a set of assumptions about leadership in cross-cultural settings and of the contextual variables impacting school leaders.

This chapter describes the assumptions underpinning the International Study of Principal Preparation. It outlines how cultural reference points for leadership have changed. It explores the changing conceptualization of contemporary leadership, highlights the new economic dimensions of leading, and discusses the changing face of educational personnel. It notes that educational leaders must utilize knowledge of how technology has altered how we perceive the world, live our lives, relate to others, and practice our profession. It highlights the complexities for leaders who must thrive in a milieu characterized by a desire to preserve a civil society, balance student–professional–union–community needs, develop cultural literacies for learners, and respond to accountability demands. Other complexities include the multiple allegiances of leaders, conflicting loyalties of community members, varying levels of digital awareness, and the need for interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. The chapter closes with a set of principles and considerations for leadership development.

This chapter identifies and describes the decision-making practices of Mexican public primary school principals when faced with moral conflicts in the exercise of their daily activities. These practices are understood as ethical management and planning, implying moral agency and the capacity for reflection and moral responsibility. An analysis of principals' narrative accounts of the ethical dilemmas they face and the reasoning they follow in order to arrive at viable solutions reveals social relations and cultural processes involved in both the generation and the solution of these conflicts. Noteworthy are the shared understandings that take into account unavoidable teacher union hierarchies and negotiation processes. One of the unforeseen and unnoticed consequences of a resulting emphasis on teacher solidarity is that students' perspective and position are rendered invisible. The discussion points to implications for the achievement of educational quality and equity, and to the possibility of promoting positive change through principals' moral awareness.The story, which is never ethically neutral, emerges as the first laboratory of moral judgment.Paul Ricoeur (1996, p. 138)

As the people responsible for guiding the efforts toward school improvement, principals must juggle the tricky balance of their combined position as managers and educational leaders. Achieving this balance is not easy when the demands of day-to-day administration coupled with loyalty to employers draws principals’ learning toward system initiatives, priorities, and policies. In this sense, this chapter articulates the importance of integrating both management and educational leadership in principal preparation. We illustrate the importance by referring to the Spanish context, notable for its recent historical development in terms of the problems, dilemmas, and challenges in the principalship. Despite the lack of consolidated pre- and in-service programs for the principalship in Spain, this context offers an example of attempts to articulate a delicate balance between the two roles in principal preparation. The emergence of an increasingly competitive international economic reality, combined with rapidly changing social conditions and external pressures for accountability, increases the urgency for more focused attention on the tension between problem solving and administration required in organizational leadership and the knowledge and skills associated with pedagogical and educational leadership.

The principalship is a social position, and inherent in the position is the ability to understand and influence people, ultimately developing productive and positive working relationships. Managing a school in this social realm requires two interrelated types of human interaction and management skills: the relational/social skills involved in building positive interpersonal relationships; and political skills, which involve negotiating macropolitical and micropolitical influences as well as proactively making use of these influences to achieve organizational goals. It is argued that these sets of skills can be acquired through leadership development programs that build social, relational, and political acumen. This chapter begins the discussion of the inseparable nature of the social, political, and relational dimensions of educational leadership within the social context of schools. This discussion also addresses the ethical and pedagogical implications for leadership development programs to incorporate the understanding and development of social, relational, and political “leadership acumen.”

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between effective leadership practices, leadership dispositions and child upbringing in six Mexican successful elementary school principals who improved the achievement, work climate, and resources in their schools. In this study, culture; order; discipline; resources; curriculum, instruction, and assessment were the most salient leadership responsibilities. The present study confirmed that trust is one of main leadership dispositions that may be related to child upbringing. The most frequent behavior displayed in the families of these principals was generating a sense of trust. Likewise the findings shed some light on the importance of secure attachment, setting limitations, and establishing rules to foster dispositions for good leadership. These exploratory findings suggest that resilience is another important leadership disposition. Results are discussed.

Across all kinds of organizations, including schools, a prevailing discourse values leadership that pursues new ideas, new knowledge, and new practices that promise to improve performance and service. Educational leadership is, accordingly, being pressed to reshape itself to become more entrepreneurial and to promote the idea of the “enterprising self.” Profound challenges to the purpose of educational leadership are bound up with this, however. They include questions of both meaning and values around the ideas and practice of entrepreneurial leadership. This chapter examines the discourse of enterprise and entrepreneurialism, and then considers the scope for responding to and shaping this discourse and the nature of entrepreneurial leadership through the ideas underpinning democratic entrepreneurialism and adaptive strategies. Implications for principal preparation and development are suggested, including the importance of problematizing entrepreneurial leadership and engaging leaders and aspiring leaders in dialogue around the diverse varieties and progressive possibilities of entrepreneurialism.

This narrative inquiry 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 support that were offered. Findings confirmed that principals addressed student behavior and campus appearance before shifting their attention to classroom instruction. Coaching, mentoring, and change of principal workshops were helpful district support.

This chapter examines leadership practices in a Mexican elementary school that implemented an environmental education (EE) project. The data were collected between 2010 and 2012 through document analysis and interviews with the principal, school supervisor, teachers, counselors, students, and parents. Additional data were collected through observations of classrooms, extracurricular activities, and professional development workshops. Findings from this study suggest the principal played a key role in facilitating a collective effort among the staff to transform the school through EE. The principal’s previous administrative experiences gave her credibility with teachers and the tools to lead the school improvement effort. The main challenge the principal faced was helping parents understand the transformative benefits of EE. Internal and external factors that support and threaten the sustainability of this change are also discussed.

This chapter explores the concepts of awareness of self and others and their application to equity-oriented educational leadership. Drawing from the literature, the authors define key concepts and how these concepts affect the work of school leaders. The authors then present an analysis of the career development of three principals who each struggle with how they will define themselves in relation to the community in which they work. Collectively these cases illustrate the importance of attending to self-awareness and cultural knowledge in the preparation of equity-oriented educational leaders. All participants’ names have been changed to protect their identity.

This chapter presents a cross-cultural comparison across the Commonwealth, namely, Australia, Canada, and Kenya. The three cases explore these indigenous principals’ perceptions of leadership development and how effectively these experiences prepared them to meet the challenges within their complex school communities. The chapter presents a discussion of the historical educational legacies of imperial rule, leadership preparation opportunities that were available to aspiring and novice leaders, the challenges the principals encountered in their leadership role in the school and within their communities, and these leaders’ beliefs and attitudes toward leadership. A final synthesis is presented, which identifies a number of commonalities in leadership approaches across these very different cultural contexts: the school communities were endeavoring to rediscover their cultural history, heritage, and beliefs and were frequently developing positive relationships with elders and others who held, and were willing to pass on, the historical and cultural knowledge and expertise. The leaders themselves held strong beliefs about the importance of cultural identity in order to forge new and contemporary pathways to success for their students. They all had a heightened ethic of care ethos that extended beyond the confines of the school building and office hours. These leaders adopted entrepreneurial leadership approaches to think and act innovatively rather than simply managing schools and were dedicated to promoting educational success for all students within their care. Leadership development implications included the need for formal, informal, and experiential experiences, as well as, for the inclusion of specific knowledge and skills that would enable leaders to effectively and sensitively lead within predominantly indigenous school communities.

The present chapter accounts for the current demands for reaching universal attendance to secondary school in Latin American countries. National frameworks of education in three countries of the American South Cone – Brazil, Argentina, and Chile – are analyzed, in order to advance in the understanding of the challenges that must be faced to universalize the secondary school. Its elitist origin and the profound cultural changes that are taking place in these societies represent major problems that have to be addressed to achieve the desired aim. A brief presentation of the alternatives of change that are being implemented is made. We reflect specially on the implications for the principals of educational institutions in the performance of their daily tasks, both in the countries selected and in other sociocultural contexts.

John Churchley is the Assistant Superintendent-Human Resources for the Kamloops/Thompson School District in British Columbia, Canada. He has a background in both arts education and educational leadership. These two fields are reflected in his work as a practitioner and leader and in his academic research. He has taught music at elementary, secondary, and university levels and has worked as a fine arts curriculum consultant and as a school principal and district administrator. John holds a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Nottingham and keeps connected academically through an appointment as Adjunct Professor at Thompson Rivers University and through his involvement in the Arts, Aesthetics, Creativity, and Organization Research Network. His research interests include: the aesthetic experience; integrated arts/aesthetic education; leadership development and its intersection with aesthetic education; and public education issues in human resources management, labor law, and labor relations. E-mail: jchurchley@sd73.bc.ca

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Advances in Educational Administration
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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