Examining Elements of Change In Four Suburban High Schools In Virginia

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Virginia Tech

There is extensive literature about the role of the principal in creating a school culture that fosters a positive school climate. How the principal addresses staff culture is among the many issues that affect lasting change. The purpose of this investigation is to examine the activities and behaviors of four suburban high school principals and how they influence change.

Cross-case site analysis utilizing ethnographic method of investigation was conducted in four suburban high schools to examine how principals influence change. The culture of each school site was examined from the perspective of principals and department chairpersons concerning elements of change.

Data were collected through interviews with principals and department chairpersons. The Developmental Research Sequence (D.R.S.) model was used to identify a set of specific dimensions for more in-depth investigation. This process of analysis provided a method for focusing the study to discover cultural themes and patterns about how principals influence change in high schools. Triangulation of data was addressed by using multiple data sources and multiple method data analysis.

The major findings of this study were that principals who influenced change demonstrated a high degree of interest and care for school community members on a professional and personal level. Principals who valued what and how people thought were recognized as being connected to the school culture. It was through this awareness that principals could then channel ideas and provide opportunities to involve people in the change process. Principals recognized for using this type of approach cultivated and nourished a culture that was open to examining and entertaining change for both personal and professional growth and improvement.

These results will have implications for educational practitioners who recognize the significance of change as a fundamental ingredient in today's educational climate and modern day society.

Culture, Change, Principal