Online from: 1987
Subject Area: Education
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|Title:||The construction of a public face as a school principal|
|Author(s):||Jorunn Møller, (Department of Teacher Education and School Research, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway)|
|Citation:||Jorunn Møller, (2012) "The construction of a public face as a school principal", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 26 Iss: 5, pp.452 - 460|
|Keywords:||Identity construction, Leadership, Norway, Public face, School leadership discourses, Schools|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/09513541211240246 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Acknowledgements:||The author would like to thank Professor Christopher Day and Professor Pat Thomson for their helpful comments on an early draft of this article. The author is also indebted to the members of the research group Curriculum Studies, Educational Leadership and Governance at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oslo.|
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how successful school leaders in Norway frame their public identity and how their narratives may be understood in relation to different discourses on leadership.
Design/methodology/approach – The approach draws upon a theoretical perspective which asserts that there is a profound connection between identity and practice, and between identity and the construction of a number of narratives (Wenger; Bourdieu and Wacquant). The author has combined analyses of public discourses on school leadership with findings based on the International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP) to analyze the school principal's construction of a public face.
Findings – The study demonstrates how the public identity and face of a school principal is multiple, subjectively constructed and intersects with public discourses. Moreover, it highlights why principals need greater capability to lead their schools in a dynamic context by being the figure head and representing the organization (Mintzberg). The ISSPP study has constructed many accounts of principals’ thinking about successful leadership and achievement. The principals’ stories partly intersect with public narratives of heroic leadership, but by highlighting their work in teams, they primarily intersect with the notion of distributed leadership. A striking feature was the principals’ commitment to making a difference for the kids and their hard work within the system to balance all of the demands placed on their shoulders in order to ensure more equitable learning environments for all students.
Research limitations/implications – The study indicates the importance of principals being reflexive about their own positions. There is a need to locate personal experience within wider relations of power. The creation of educational biographies may serve as an approach to helping principals understand how and why they learned in the past and what motivates them to pursue new educational opportunities.
Originality/value – A focus on identities and their development can tap the complexity of school leadership in a tumultuous, high-stakes environment of accountability.