Principals' Experiences Initiating, Implementing, and Sustaining Change Within Their School

Lennart Theodore Erickson III, Walden University


Many research studies have investigated the role of the principal in implementing change. Despite the information gleaned from those investigations, principals continue to struggle with initiating, implementing, and sustaining change in their schools. Guiding this narrative inquiry study were theories related to principal leadership, educational change theory, and the theories associated with school culture, with the intent to understand the experiences of principals as they initiated, implemented, and sustained change in their schools. This study explored the challenges and successes principals experienced along with the specific actions that contributed to successful implementation. Five principals from southern Idaho were interviewed. Narratives were co-constructed based on each of the principal's experiences. Polyvocal analysis was used to analyze the data and co-construct the narratives with the participants. Common themes were examined and compared to recent research related to principals implementing change. A cross narrative analysis was used to compare the common themes and actions attributed to the successful implementation of change. Analysis of the data revealed that, among these 5 principals, successful implementation of change was created by obtaining buy-in from staff, building trust, distributing leadership, providing structured time for teachers to learn and collaborate, building capacity through targeted professional development, and seeking input from all stakeholders. These findings will promote social change by helping principals to understand the experiences of other principals with initiating, implementing, and sustaining change. Also, the common themes identified will inform principals on how to successfully implement change that will positively affect students.