A qualitative study of authority from the perspective of secondary school principals /
Leis, Carol Hoover.
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In this research study I examined how four principals of secondary schools interpreted authority and how these interpretations affected their practice. This study involved a presentation of the literature where the concept of qualitative methodology as well as general concepts of authority were reviewed. Four principals were interviewed and asked to reflect on their feelings and experiences as they related to the practice of authority. Five major themes emerged from their reflections and stories which were: Understandings of the Concept of Authority, Principals' Enactment of Authority, Thoughts and Experiences related to Challenges to Their Authority, A View of Principals' Challenge of Authority, and Changing Views on the Authority of Principals in Ontario. The stories of these four principals demonstrated that the practice of authority is complex, dynamic, and contains personal and social tensions. The sharing of these ideas and stories provided a window into the world of these secondary school educational leaders and their experiences with, and enactment of, authority. From this research four recommendations were made to improve educators' practice related to the issue of authority. The importance of this study is that it presents an understanding of the dynamic nature of the process and enactment of authority by these secondary school principals at a unique time in the history of education in Ontario.This qualitative research provides a snapshot of a particular group of educators at a particular time and place. Others need to add to these understandings and modify these ideas through further research. Understanding the experiences of educational leaders as they negotiate concepts of authority gives a window on this very complex, yet vital, component of education.