Professional Learning and Instructional Leadership During COVID-19
Clark, Anne Rogers. “Professional Learning and Instructional Leadership During COVID-19”, Boston College, 2022. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109592.
This qualitative case study examined the roles autonomy played in how principals in one Massachusetts district learned to prioritize curricular goals and to support instruction during a time of crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. A Communities of Practice (CoP) theory and the concepts of boundaries and brokering served as a theoretical framework to examine principal autonomy. Findings revealed that principals, as members of both their school CoP and the district CoP, existed in a state of multi-membership between the two. Principals then reconciled competing messages and demands between the district CoP and their school CoPs through bridging and buffering. Findings further demonstrated that principals struggled to see themselves as instructional leaders during the pandemic given logistical challenges. Principals also had to adjust their instructional goals to meet changing student social emotional needs and developmental gaps. Finally, data revealed that there was a shift in the roles of autonomy over the course of the three school years of the pandemic: district leaders supported principal autonomy, and the needed improvisation it brought to the district CoP, at the onset of the pandemic and during the second school year but returned to a more centralized calibration as the pandemic continued into the third school year. This research has implications for districts seeking to prepare for crises and suggests that districts might consider principal autonomy as a strategy for innovation.