DISSERTATION PROPOSAL ANNOUNCEMENT Ed.D. Program Heather Shanklin: “Principal Leadership Lessons Learned From The Covid-19 Pandemic”

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Link to Abstract: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1c6548Jse1KBskXHXPG_Zoc3wM8RZt2FSbRbP6GLM6PY/edit?usp=sharing

Since the turn of the century, crises are occurring more frequently in school settings. From mass school shootings, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, mass fires, and, now, global health pandemics, it is clear that school leaders need skills and established structures to mitigate crises and learn from the experiences to help organizations move toward more stability.

The present study explores crisis leadership approaches used by principals during the COVID-19 pandemic to understand and describe educational crisis leadership. During COVID-19 school leaders around the world were challenged to provide effective leadership in unprecedented times. More research on crisis leadership in education is needed to better prepare educational leaders for future crises.

The goal of this research is to unearth the perceptions, values, and lived realities of public school principals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The following research questions will guide my study:

1. How do principals describe their practices to support staff, students, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic?

2. What values and beliefs do principals describe as guiding their practices during the COVID-19 pandemic?

3. What emotional responses do principals describe as a result of leading during the COVID-19 pandemic?

4. What did principals learn about themselves as leaders while leading a school during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Utilizing a qualitative case study approach, I will conduct two interviews with 10-15 PreK-12 school principals and assistant principals in a regional school district. Drawing on the tenets of turbulency theory and meta leadership, I will explore how principals mitigated the outcomes of the pandemic within their school community, what they perceived as priorities in different stages of the pandemic for their school and wider educational community, how the experience impacted them personally and emotionally, and what they learned about leadership through this experience. Additionally, each participant will be asked to provide artifacts from their school during the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., agendas, communication, newsletters, video messages, daily schedules, photographs, etc). These artifacts will be analyzed through the lens of Meta Leadership, Crisis Leadership, and Educational Leadership to identify educational crisis leadership lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The present research on educational leadership during the COVID-19 crisis draws attention to the neglected, yet, increasingly important aspect of educational crisis leadership. My research seeks to add to the limited body of empirical research on educational crisis leadership to identify the lessons learned that can be applied to future crises and leverage these findings to district crisis policies, procedures, and training.

To access the Zoom link required to attend this defense, please contact academic.services@gse.rutgers.edu.