The professional development needs and experiences of mid and late-career principals
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 00:49 authored by Suzanne Mary Lazenby
Comparative to what is known about teacher development generally, or what is known about the professional development of aspirant or newly-appointed principals, far less is known about the professional development of experienced principals, defined in this study as principals who have been in the role in excess of five years. This is somewhat surprising when it is considered that this group are key players in the current environment of rapid globalisation of educational expectations and modes of practice. In the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, this group represent the majority of Principals in the NSW Government (public) school sector where this study is set. These experienced principals provided the case study for an investigation into the professional development needs and experiences of mid and late-career principals. The study utilised an iterative, three-phase, mixed method research design. The study began with exploratory interviews and proceeded by way of a state-wide survey and focused, individual interviews. Further insights were sought by triangulating the views of principals with those of a small group of academics and administrators considered to be experts in the field and familiar with working alongside principals. Cumulative analysis of the data gathered across these phases showed the importance and unexpected power of peer-networking engagement in principals’ professional development and in building both individual and collective principal efficacy. This was especially so in situations where principals felt in control of these networks and their focus extended beyond the immediate control and priorities of the employing authority. There was also evidence of the need for these connections to become more international in their focus, with principals increasingly aware of their responsibilities and challenges in leading schools in a competitive and global education environment. The implications of these and other related findings for the professional growth and wellbeing of principals, and for educational leadership research, policy and practice, are discussed.