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Understanding New Principals’ Transition To Instructional Leadership Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationUnderstanding New Principals’ Transition to Instructional Leadership The purpose of this study was to understand the instructional leadership role development of new principals. The overarching research question that guided this study was: How do new principals transition into an instructional leadership role? Using a basic qualitative approach, 12 new principals participated in the study. Data collection included a series of three interviews with each principal. Additionally, they were observed enacting an instructional leadership activity. Novice principals have a repertoire of strategies they use in an effort to improve instruction. They draw on their experiences to inform their instructional leadership initiatives, relying on familiar approaches with which they have experienced success. A lack of preparation for some aspects of the role is a source of role conflict for new principals.Multiple school stakeholders – students, staff, parents, and district administrators - influence principals’ conceptualizations of their expected role and require principals to negotiate competing demands. Stakeholders’ conceptualizations of the principal’s role complicate instructional improvement efforts. District messages to focus on important instructional matters conflict with school-level messages to focus on urgent non-instructional matters. Principals find themselves juggling the multiple priorities of the role. Analysis of these findings suggests that principals require increased support to enact the role effectively. Professional development to address skill gaps promotes instructional practices. Additionally, an area for continued research is the exploration of how effective principals reframe schools so that instructional improvement is both important and urgent.

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