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Socializing Leaders for Student Success: An Exploration of How and Why Urban Principals Develop Teachers

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posted on 18.10.2016, 00:00 authored by Anne C. Hoisington Hutchinson
Principal leadership offers a promising measure to address ambitious policy goals for school improvement and student learning (Darling-Hammond et al., 2007; Goddard & Miller, 2010). However, in order to engage in principal-focused reform, it is important to examine the specific means by which principals experience socialization, or the reciprocal social learning process through which they gain the knowledge, understanding, skills, and values necessary for the principalship, and its outcomes of role conception, professional identity, and practice. Drawing from socialization and effective school leadership literatures, I employed a case study research design to explore how first-time elementary school principals enacted leadership practice shown to be effective for improving student achievement and how and why their socialization differentially prepared them to do this work. Using one evidence-based effective leadership practice to operationalize instructional leadership performance, I attended to interactions between it and the socialization process as well as the ensuing relationship between role conception, professional identity, and practice (Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Robinson et al., 2008; Louis et al., 2010). This inquiry relied strongly on semistructured interviews of principal participants but was complemented by multiple data sources to ensure accuracy and credibility: teacher and university coach interviews, observations (i.e., shared leadership activity), documents (e.g., student-level work products, principal preparation program policies, local school district policies), and archival records (e.g., 5Essentials Survey, ISBE School Report Card). I conducted three case studies with simultaneous and iterative data collection and analysis, including within-case and cross-case synthesis, with the goal of analytic generalization (Yin, 2003; Creswell, 2008). Ultimately, this investigation illuminated the conjunctural influence (Ragin, 1999) of anticipatory, professional, and organizational socialization on new elementary school principals’ enactment of leadership practice. It confirmed the relevance of anticipatory and organizational socialization to their integrated leadership development as well as the strength of the relationship between practice and professional identity. The study offers considerations for new principal practitioners and those who create policy and educate future school leaders.



Mayrowetz, David


Educational Policy Studies

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University of Illinois at Chicago

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Cosner, Shelby Seashore Louis, Karen Tozer, Steve Walker, Lisa

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