Bypassing the assistant principalship: An instrumental multi -case study of three elementary school principals

Adolfo Fernandez, University of Texas at El Paso


Because more emphasis is now being placed on the leadership of our school sites for effective educational reform, it is reasonable to believe that school principals need to be better prepared to meet the ever changing demands of the principalship. ^ Using a qualitative design, this study involved three principals who had never served in the role of assistant principals. The strategies these three principals used to cope with the demands of the principalship, their perceptions of their leadership style, and their perceived value of their university preservice preparation program are described. ^ Through content analysis, the results revealed that to effectively cope with the demands of the principalship, the participants rely on: (a) personal experiences gained from previous jobs, (b) a work-related support system, and (c) professional growth through staff development. ^ Each participant uses a leadership style which he/she perceives to best suit the needs of the school. One principal uses a facilitator type of leadership style, another uses a collegial leadership style, and the third principal uses an authoritarian type of leadership style. A teacher from each research site, who met the requirements set by this study, was formally interviewed to cross-check the principal's perception of his/her leadership style. In each research site, the teacher interviewed perceived the principal's leadership style precisely as the principal did. However, the same teachers had a different perception from the principal in the consistency of the leadership style. ^ In university preservice preparation, the participants perceived courses in educational law as the most useful courses they took in their mid-management program and courses in statistics were perceived as the least useful. They also revealed a desire for courses that help them deal directly with parents and courses that deal with role theory and self-awareness. ^ Based on the common findings that surfaced, this study made recommendations in the areas of selection process, academic preparation, field-based preparation, and personal and professional development. Also, areas for future research are offered. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Fernandez, Adolfo, "Bypassing the assistant principalship: An instrumental multi -case study of three elementary school principals" (2000). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI9970434.