UBC Graduate Research

Preparing beginning principals and vice-principals for educational leadership Burt, James G.


Recently, there has been increased awareness of the important role that principals and vice-principals have in schools and a realization that many of the incumbents will soon be retiring, leaving a large percentage of schools with inexperienced leaders. This project examines how school districts in British Columbia and the British Columbia Principal and Vice-Principal Association view the complex role of principals and vice-principals by analyzing a number of recent principal and vice-principal job posting postings, as well as taking a critical look at the British Columbia Principal and Vice-Principal Association’s Leadership Standards for Principals and Vice-Principals. I then describe and critique various attempts that education leadership programs are using to support new school administrators. The majority of programs in British Columbia do not include formal practicums, are rich in leadership theory and focus on many of the administrative responsibilities associated with the day to day realities of being a principal or vice-principal. Educational leadership is often lumped in with other forms of leadership and the project examines why this can be potentially problematic for emerging educational leaders. Using personal experiences as a beginning school administrator going through an educational leadership program, I identify some of the pros and the cons for principals and vice-principals in these programs. I conclude by arguing that unless both educational leadership programs and school districts are committed to helping beginning principals and vice-principals better understand their own beliefs about what is educationally important and the importance of working with partner groups to help create that environment for students, we will continue to fill the vacancies for principal and vice-principal positions, but perhaps with the wrong people.

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