The impact of the principal socialization experience on the professional lives of selected Wobegone County Schools principals
Randall R. Shaver, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, United States
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro . Awarded
The persistent shortage of teachers in America's public schools is eclipsed only by the shortage of qualified principals. Perhaps principals leave the role quickly because of bad principal socialization experiences as they move into this important leadership role. Perhaps the socialization process for those who serve long and well in the principalship was a very positive experience. If the socialization process is more difficult for some new principals and assistant principals than it is for others, then it is important to investigate why the experience is so varied among administrators. Conducting this research and reporting the analyzed data quite possibly could have serious ramifications in addressing the administrator shortage in Wobegone County Schools as well as in other school systems.
Two variables, principal socialization and teacher leadership provide the framework for my investigation into the success or failure of the selected Wobegone County Schools principals. This study examines the unique principal socialization experiences of four different administrators as compared to my own socialization experience in this leadership role. Ann Hart describes two parts to the socialization process. These are role taking and role making (1993, pp. 221-223). Matthews and Crow examine socialization on many different levels including assistant principal socialization, socialization for first time principals, socialization for principals changing schools, and the experiences of mid-career principals who must become socialized to new role expectations as the job of principal evolves (Matthews & Crow, 2005, pp. 259-292). My study participants represent principals in all stages of socialization as framed by Hart and Crow.
This study utilizes a combination of autobiographical and biographical case study research. Essentially my own unique story of the journey from classroom to the principal's office is compared to the experiences of other selected subjects. My goal, through the gathering of data and the analysis of it, was to search for patterns and consistencies in the stories of all study participants, including my own. I employed the Dolbeare-Schuman-Seidman Narrative Interview Design while collecting data from my primary subjects. This consisted of three separate interviews for each participant. In addition I observed each subject in their current settings, interviewed teachers on their staffs, and collected data from the subjects' journals and notes about their socialization experiences which I compared to the notes I made of my experience.
The most significant conclusions of my research indicate that there is a very strong correlation between the quality of principal socialization experiences as well as teacher leadership experiences and success as a principal.
Shaver, R.R. The impact of the principal socialization experience on the professional lives of selected Wobegone County Schools principals. Ph.D. thesis, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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