Induction in education : support for principal supervisors




Acosta, Courtney Beth

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Clarity among principal supervisors to do their work is critical for student success, as their efforts affect principals, but the literature lacks information about the induction practices for principal supervisors. The purpose of this study was to identify the learning experiences and induction practices in school districts that principal supervisors believed most supported them as novices in the role. This study design was qualitative, naturalistic field research and involved interviews and document analysis. The researcher analyzed the induction practices had by 12 principal supervisors who had been in their roles for at least 3 years and who represented eight school districts in Texas. Four research questions asked about: (a) induction practices existing in school districts to address the needs of principal supervisors, (b) strengths of current principal supervisor induction practices, (c) weaknesses of current principal supervisor induction practices, (d) induction practices that would have supported success in the new principal supervisor role.

Seven themes represented induction practices: (a) no formal or systematic induction practices in the district, (b) on-the-job experiential learning, (c) self-study for learning about the district and the work of supervising principals, (d) received external organization guidance used for induction support, (e) support from current and former supervisors, (f) some induction experiences provided by districts, (g) formal mentoring. Five themes represented induction strengths: (a) community experiences; (b) clarity of district goals, values, beliefs, frameworks, languages, and history through communication and documentation; (c) support and coaching from supervisors; (d) goal setting expectations; (e) informal cohort experiences. Five themes formed induction weaknesses: (a) lack of an intentional system of onboarding and induction, (b) lack of formal cohort experiences, (c) lack of background information provided about districts’ important historical moments, (d) lack of effective sharing of districts’ frameworks and languages, (e) no differentiation of internally and externally hired new principal supervisors’ needs. Finally, three themes represented practices that would have better-supported induction success: (a) formal system of induction; (b) formal learning opportunities about district history, frameworks, languages, attitudes, and beliefs and for role clarity; (c) formal and structured learning experiences on the job.


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