Principal preparedness : what aspects of their training and experience impact their feelings of readiness around their positions
Principal preparation programs (Corocran, Schwartz, & Weinsten, 2012; Fuller, Young, & Baker, 2011; Vanderhaar, Muñoz, & Rodosky, 2006) and subsequent career path (Béteille, Kalogrides, & Loeb, 2012; Hausman, Nebeker, McCreary, & Gordon, 2002; Parylo, Zepeda, & Bengston, 2013) affect varying outcomes such as teacher retention and student achievement. Given what we know about the costs of losing principals is to districts, schools, and students (Barnes, Crowe, & Schaefer, 2008; Fuller & Young, 2009; Miller, 2013), it is important to understand how best to equip principals to handle the challenges they may face in different types of schools. This study sought to understand how a principal’s preparation for the job, including learning and curriculum in their preparation program, principal internship, and subsequent assistant principal job experience specifically impacted their feelings of preparedness and perceptions of effectiveness with regards to their position by speaking with principals serving urban schools which are more susceptible to turnover who have been in their positions for four or more years. Participants generally reported feeling effective in their position, specifically in regards to developing leaders, supporting teachers, building relationships with students, communication, and developing curriculum. Principals described the ways their preparation program and subsequent administrative experience helped them feel better prepared for their job, including having mentor principals, relevant curriculum in their preparation program, and opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities. These findings indicate the need to further explore how preparation programs and districts can better support programs that build feelings of effectiveness in principals by helping them feel better prepared for the role of head principal such as mentor pipelines, mental health services, and through more strategic learning opportunities within preparation programs themselves.