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ERIC Number: ED554382
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 231
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3031-9154-1
How Do Principals Perceive School Crisis: Lending Their Voices
Waters-Johnson, Renee
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University
School crises such as the "Newtown" shooting have underscored the importance of school readiness, but the topic of how principals prepare for these emergencies remains understudied. Although school crisis plans have been created at the state and national level, we do not know how these plans inform principals' perceptions about crisis events or if they shape their behavior. This study investigated how principals define, recognize, and perceive their role in a school crisis. Research questions include: 1) What assumptions, beliefs or ideas guide the crisis plans that direct school actions, especially with respect to the principal?; 2) What situations or factors lead principals to recognize an event as a crisis?; 3) What do principals perceive they need to do or is expected of them during a crisis? Two sources of data were used for this study. A national sample of state crisis plans was created. Textual analysis, a method explained by McKee (2003), was used to determine how crisis was defined in these documents and to explore any guidelines for principal behavior. Survey data was collected from representative sample of elementary school principals in two states. 188 principals responded to questions about their own knowledge of preparedness, their perceptions of staff readiness, and their beliefs about what was expected of them in a crisis situation. Open ended questions allowed principals to report their own experiences with crisis situations. A conceptual model of alternative crisis leadership as found in Weick's work on educational firefighting (Weick, 1996 and Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001) was also used to explore the assumptions about principal behavior found in the plans and in principals' reports. Key findings show that principals are aware of crisis plans. Most principals believe that they and their staff are prepared for crisis situations. School crisis is defined across many dimensions of community functioning, and is often not restricted to incidents occurring within the school building. Comparison with Weick's work shows that principals both depart from and demonstrate the practices in high reliability organizations. While principals may assume a rigid hierarchy that can be disrupted in a crisis, for example, they also report that they use diffuse networks of informants to alert them to emergent situations. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A