New principals as agents of change

Williams, Sydney (2012-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Includes bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis focuses on the critical role of the new principal as agent of change. “New principal” in this context is a principal who has been at a specific school for between one and five years. He or she may have been promoted from a post at the same school or have been a principal at another school beforehand. The thesis highlights the tangible changes these principals made during their time at these schools, from raising the morale of educators, to improving academic results of learners, to increasing the level of involvement of parents as well as community members. The literature survey focuses on change in school contexts where urgent and far reaching change is necessary. It shows how complex the process is and the various stages that are involved. The literature underlines that change and resistance are sides of the same coin. It seems that successful change requires that the principal as an agent and initiator of change has a clear set of strategies to handle the inevitable resistance to the process. The literature review also explores the different stages of resistance and the considerations necessary to ensure that the change process leads to a peaceful conclusion that benefits the school as a whole. The main collection instrument used in this qualitative research is a semi-structured interview on the theme of change. The study uses the narratives of four principals, two from secondary schools and two from primary schools from dysfunctional and low-performing schools that emerged, to explore the reasons for their success. Findings show all these ‘new’ principals were at schools affected by socio-economic factors that had a negative effect on the academic results of learners. The attempts these principals made were initially met with resistance, particularly from educators who had been at the school for some time, who did not see any need to make changes at the school. It seems the findings show that the principals in this study always had an appropriate strategy to deal with the situations that arose. This makes them truly transformational leaders, i.e. leaders with the necessary expertise who can enable their followers to perform better than they thought they could and work for the good of the institution rather than their own self-interest. These are the type of leaders that schools need to make our education system as effective as it needs to be. In the interests of making dysfunctional or poorly performing schools a better place of teaching and learning for all learners and educators, further research should build on the work done here. Particular attention should be given to the management style of effective school such as the new principals at these particular schools. This will provide us with better academic “lenses” to observe the necessary passion and commitment with which these changes are made, and the ways in which principals are able to endure and overcome any resistance to change.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis fokus op die kritieke rol van die “nuwe prinsipaal (skoolhoof) as agent van verandering”. “Nuwe prinsipaal” in hierdie konteks bedoel prinsipaal is ''n persoon wat tussen een en vyf jaar by n spesifieke skool was. Hierdie persoon kan in hierdie pos as prinsipaal by hul hiudige skool bevorder geword het, of as prinsipaal by n ander skool in die pos as prinsipaal gewerk het. Hierdie tesis bring na vore die sigbare veranderings wat hierdie prinsipale aangebring het gedurende hul termyn by hierdie skole, van die opheffing van die moreel van onderwysers tot die verbetering van die akademiese uitslae van leerders, tot beter betrokkenheid van ouers en gemeenskaplede by die skool. Die literere navorsing fokus op verandering binne die skool konteks waar dringend en vergaande verandering 'n noodsaaklihheid geword het. Dit bewys die komplekse aard en die verskillende stadiums verbind daarmee. Die literatuur beklemtoon die feit dat verandering en weerstand twee kante van dieselfde muntstuk is (gaan saam). Dit blyk suksevolle veranderings verg van die prinsipaal as agent en inisieerder van verandering, duidelike strategiee om die onafwendbare of onvoorspelbare weerstand te bestuur in die proses. Die literere oorsig ondersoek die verskillende stadiums van weerstand endie nodige vermoens om die proses van verandering te ondersteun, en tot voordeel van die skool as geheul te bevoordeel. Die vernaamste instrument wat in die kwalititiewe navorsing gebruik is, was n semi-struktuere onderhoud gebaseer op die tema van verandering. Hierdie studie gebruik die verhalende aard van die vier prinsipale, twee van sekondere skole, en twee van primere skole, almal van disfunktionele en lae-voerende skole, wat die rede vir hul sukses bepaal het. Bevindings wys dat al die “nuwe prinsipale” by skole was wat beinvloed was deur sosio-ekonomiese faktore wat 'n negatiewe uitwerking gehad het op die akademiese uitslae van leerders. Die pogings van die prinsipale was aanvanglik met weerstand gepaard gegaan, veral van opvoeders wat vir 'n aantal jare by die skool was, en nie die nodigheid vir veranderings gesien het nie. Bevindings in die studie toon dat die prinsipale altyd gereed was met die gepaste strategie om die situasie te hanteer. Die het van hulle ware transformele leiers gemaak, m.a.w. leiers met die nodige vaardighede, wat hulle in staat gestel het om hulle volgelinge bemagtig het om beter te doen as wat hulle gedink het hulle in staat was, en gewerk het tot die voordeel van die skool as instansie en nie tot hulle eie belange as prinsipale nie. In die belange en voordeel om van disfunksionele of swak akademiese skole 'n beter plek van onderrig en opvoeding vir alle leerders en opvoeders te maak, word voorgestel dat verdere navorsing onderneem word. Daar moet veral gefokus word op, die bestuursstyl van geaffekteerde skole soos die nuwe prinsipale van hierdie spesifieke skole. Dit sal ons met beter akademiese lense toerus om die nodige passie en toegewydheid te observeer waarmee hierdie veranderings gemaak was, en die maniere waarmee die prinsipale gevolhard het teen die stryd om weerstand teen te staan in die proses tot verandering.

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