Factors influencing teacher's aspirations to the principalship in Prince Edward Island schools

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University of New Brunswick


For decades, principals have been recognized as important contributors to the effectiveness of schools (Day, Harris, & Hadfield, 2001; Pullan, 2001, Leithwood, Patten & Jantzi, 2010; Leithwood, Louis, & Anderson, 2012; Sebastian & Allensworth, 2012). Over these same decades, the work of school administrators has changed dramatically as a restructured system of governance and increased calls for accountability have resulted in constant pressure to innovate, change, and work with community stakeholders (Horng, Kalogrides, & Loeb, 2010; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001). As in many jurisdictions across the country and indeed the world, public education in Prince Edward Island (PEI) faces leadership challenges. The limited quantity and difficulty in identifying quality people interested in school leadership, in particular the principalship, are major concerns. The purpose of this study was to investigate the specific factors that impact on the principalship aspirations of teachers in PEI schools. The qualitative methods for data collection employed in this intrinsic case study included focus group interviews, one-on-one interviews with key respondents, and information from relevant documents, and reflections drawn from my own experiences. The conceptual framework, developed from the review of literature served as the guiding and structural lens for the study. Data were collected from teachers, school administrators and district leadership team members and were organized in three categories: motivational, experiential and reluctance factors. The data for this research clearly indicated that most teachers in PEI are reluctant to apply to the principalship because of a perceived weakness in the required skills, a perceived unsuitability for the position based on the requirements posted, and misalignment with their professional goals. This often manifests itself as a fear of the unknown or a lack of confidence among teachers when they are contemplating the principalship.