An ethnographic study of five teaching principals in small rural schools in Newfoundland and Labrador

Gale, Theresa Marie (1998) An ethnographic study of five teaching principals in small rural schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The duties and responsibilities that rural teaching principals encounter on a daily basis are as complex and varied as they are challenging. Little research has been conducted on teaching principals in the Newfoundland and Labrador context; thus it remains an area worthy of continued study. Five teaching administrators were selected from various geographical locations around the province whose schools primarily have a population of less than one hundred pupils. The intent was to ascertain the responsibilities, duties, challenges and frustrations of these individuals and to examine them separately and in context with each other in relation to the literature review. -- Five teaching administrators were interviewed separately on such topics as the characteristics of their respective school, whether the small pupil enrolment and staff mediated the combined role, the extent of their duties and responsibilities, the perceived advantages and challenges they encounter, and their level of satisfaction. Interviews were conducted in person (where possible) or via telephone and were recorded with their permission. The participants themselves were direct and forthright in their responses for the most part while two were notably guarded in respect to questions pertaining to their relationships with their school board and their level of job satisfaction. -- One of these five participants was observed in his school over a day and a half. The observation was instrumental in that it provided the researcher a better understanding of the duties and responsibilities in the role, especially the workload involved. This participant observation essentially provided a reference point for clarifying and examining the interviews. -- This ethnographic study incorporates case study as the primary strategy through interviews whereas participant observation is the secondary strategy. The study examined the findings from two perspectives, essentially employing Yin's model. Individual cases were thoroughly described and a cross case analysis was conducted to determine similarities and differences within the data collected as well as with the literature review. -- Much of the research pertaining to teaching principals was conducted in the United States and Western Canada but the participants involved in this study both supported and refuted the findings in the literature. The literature suggests, for example, various reasons which contribute to the level of job satisfaction. These include the close relationship with the community, the prestige inherent in the position, and being able to shape (even in a small way) the school's destiny. Job security was the prominent reason for job satisfaction in this study while familiarity with the community and solid professional relationships with fellow teachers and students were second and third reasons. -- Other points arose from the research, one of which noted that administrators saw themselves as a teacher first. High levels of frustration were also noted, particularly in respect to paperwork and being far removed from the decision making body. -- This ethnographic study provides an insight into the lives of five individuals; a glimpse into their daily duties, their challenges, their sources of frustration as well as their sources of satisfaction. It is hoped that this one study will encourage others to continue research in this virtually unexplored territory.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9022
Item ID: 9022
Additional Information: Bibliography: pages 119-126.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: School principals--Newfoundland and Labrador; Teacher-principal relationships--Newfoundland and Labrador; Rural schools--Newfoundland and Labrador

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