First-Year Principals: Surviving the First Year of Principalship

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: First-Year Principals: Surviving the First Year of Principalship
Stream: Educational Policy, Leadership, Management & Administration
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Stephen Earley, Department of Education, Ireland


A collection of administrational, instructional and leadership duties has established the school principal as the most influential individual within the school environment. Despite the substantial influence associated with the position of principal, there is a paucity of research related to the experiences of newly appointed principals in the Irish Primary School setting. This mixed-methods study seeks to explore the experiences of newly appointed principals with specific emphasis on their socialization patterns, identity transformations and instructional experiences. This study followed a mixed methods research design as 10 newly appointed principals completed a questionnaire designed to examine their first year as a school principal. 6 of these respondents were then interviewed to facilitate a more comprehensive exploration of their experiences. The findings suggested that newly appointed principals experience an increase in stress upon commencement of their new role, due to the number and extensive nature of their new duties. The principal’s instructional obligations proved to be the least challenging of their leadership duties due to their professional socialization patterns and their experiences as a classroom teacher. The final finding indicated that principals’ identities changed in response to the promotion to the post of principal which facilitated their entry into new communities of practice.

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