The purpose of this study was to revisit Harry Wolcotts classic qualitative case, The Man in the Principals Office, and explore how a principal conceptualizes and enacts his role in an era of high stakes accountability. Specifically, case study and ethnographic methods were combined with a phenomenological lens to inquire into the lived experience of one elementary school principal, Tom Smith. Data collection consisted of phenomenological and dialogical interviews and participant observation. During analysis, data were coded and categorized thematically using a four-step phenomenological process. This process consisted of epoche, phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and a synthesis of meanings and essences. In total, blending the researchers and participants perceptions strengthen the trustworthiness and credibility of this study, and allowed a composite picture of the experience to come into focus. As a result, to report the findings the researcher used a three-story framework of 1) Who I am, 2) What I do, and 3) Where we are going to identify the underlying meaning driving Toms leadership. The Who I Am story identifies how the principals core leadership beliefs and attitudes were shaped by his life experiences. Results indicate that much of Toms leadership beliefs emerged from his own lived experience of building relationships with colleagues. In particular, his core beliefs center on his metaphor of “lubricating the human machinery” to improve the lives of teachers and students. The What He Does story outlines what the school administrator does as he leads his school in an era of high stakes accountability. This story revealed how the school leader enacted the metaphor of “lubricating the human machinery” in his practice by caring for and personally investing in his faculty in three overlapping ways: 1) buffering his staff from anxiety associated with teaching in an era of high stakes accountabilityï¼ 2) nurturing his staffï¼ and 3) promoting teacher professional growth. Lastly, in the Where Are We Going story I use model for leading in a culture of change as a theoretical framework and discuss how Toms actions help build capacity and subsequently foster a shared vision within his school community.
|Title||The Man in the Principal’s Office: Revisiting Harry Wolcott’s research during an era of increased complexity and high stakes accountability|
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