The Saskatchewan Principalship Study
Report Two: The Principal in Action

By Pat Renihan

SSTA Research Centre Report #124: 66 pages, $14.

Board Concerns Any in-depth study of the school principalship must take into account the problems and issues which are perceived to be major sources of concern in the performance of the role. In this study, the identification of these concerns was one of the first tasks. The problems and concerns were identified in several ways. Beginning with an invitational conference of principals and directors in March, 1982, at which time issues, concerns and research needs germane to the principalship were identified, questionnaires and interview schedules were constructed and administered to teachers, trustees, directors and principals throughout Saskatchewan. These techniques, together with school observations, provided further information on the general concerns and research needs identified in the "March Seminar".

The present Report, therefore, examines in some depth the major sources of concern relating to the performance of the principal's role. In meeting this task, this Report will re-introduce a few of the issues handled in the first report. In Report #1, they were identified. Here, they will be dealt with in more detail and from a somewhat different perspective.

Identifying Specific Concerns: The March Seminar
Perceived Impact of the Education Act
Training and Professional Development of Principals
Two Sub-Studies

Back to: Leadership

The SSTA Research Centre grants permission to reproduce up to three copies of each report for personal use. Each copy must acknowledge the author and the SSTA Research Centre as the source. A complete and authorized copy of each report is available from the SSTA Research Centre.
The opinions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.



The question was posed to teachers, principals, directors, and trustees as to whether or not they perceived the principalship as a vocation requiring special training beyond that of their staffs. A summary of the responses of each group to this question is contained in Table l.

It seems apparent, from the information in Table 1, that there is a conventional feeling that the principalship is a vocation requiring special training. In fact, over 85 percent of the total respondent group bad this perception, and it is perhaps worthy of note that a higher proportion of directors and trustees, than of teachers and principals, had this perception. For each group, a greater proportion of urban than of rural respondents gave a positive response to this question. The difference, however, was not great.

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By far the most common pool of resources from which principals are drawn is of course, the teaching force. The quality of individuals in the principalship, therefore, rests significantly in the number and type of individuals, among teachers, who express an interest in the position. Respondents were asked about their perceptions of the desires of teachers to became principals. Their reactions are summarized in Table 2.

From the data contained in Table 2, it can be seen that each of the groups perceived the desires of teachers to became principals to be declining rather than increasing, and that this perception is even more prevalent among rural than urban groups. Directors were most definite in their assessment that teachers are becoming less desirous of the principalship, 55 percent of the group indicating this category. The directors' group were also more certain in making their choice an this particular issue, as illustrated by the fact that only 8 percent of them (as opposed to 25 percent of the trustees and 29 percent of the teachers) responded in the "don't know" category in regard to teacher aspirations.

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Principals were asked in the principalship questionnaire to identify their future plans. This provides same indications, not only of the predisposition of principals to remain in the principalship, but also of the extent to which the job itself is regarded as a career by those who have already had same taste of the position. The alternatives presented to the principals were:

remain as principal of present school:

became principal of another school;

Seek promotion to another administrative position

seek a teaching position with no administrative duties;

return to University for formal studies;

seek a non-teaching position;


Table 3 contains a summary of responses of principals to the question of their future plans.

From the information in Table 3, it can be seen that less than 50 percent of the responding principals plan to remain as principals of their present school. Of the urban principals, 49 percent indicated that they plan to remain, as opposed to 44 percent of their rural counterparts. The figure for urban principals would be even greater were it not for the practice, in Same urban systems, of periodically transferring principals to other schools within the system.

About 12 percent of the principals indicated that they plan to seek promotion to another administrative position, and a greater proportion of rural (13 percent) than of urban (11 percent) principals had aspirations in this regard.

Thirty-four percent of the rural principals, and 23 percent of the urban principals selected categories which involved a direct break from the principalship as a career, which might indicate that the urban environment more effectively fosters the notion of the "career principal".

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It has been noted that the principals' influence has declined in recent years, due to such factors as the influence of navel administrative theories, the growth of teacher power, the emphasis on change and expertise and a variety of such constraints as time, the priorities and attitudes of other people (Bridges, 1970) . Principals' own perceptions as to the amount of influence they have been able to exert in their schools is perhaps an indication of their perceptions of the degree of fulfillment which they have been able to achieve in their work. Responding to this question, over 50 percent of Saskatchewan principals perceived that they have been able to make as many improvements in their schools as were possible under the circumstances. Only about 22 percent indicated that they have made more improvements than anticipated. The perception seems to be there for both rural and urban principals that they are at least having Sane impact upon the schools under their jurisdiction. At the same time, there is the feeling that, given the opportunity, they could do much more. This is borne out by comments made by principals when interviewed about their major concerns in the role. Such comments will be identified later in this report.

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The perceived decline in aspirations of teachers to the principalship, the perception, on the part of a significant number of principals that they would not like to remain in the principalship; the feeling of futility, among principals, that their effects are limited by constraints beyond their control, are concerns that point to a crisis of credibility in the principalship. Such a crisis has its origins, not only in the perceptions of educators, but also in a variety of specific, but powerful concerns and problems which principals are facing in the performance of their jobs. A significant part of this study vas devoted to the identification of those concerns.

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In March, 1982, a stratified sample of one hundred principals and directors of education from various locations in Saskatchewan participated in an exploratory seminar on the principalship. These individuals represented schools and school systems of various sizes, grade-levels, locations and denominations. The focus of the seminar was on the identification and discussion of a) concerns in the performance of the functions of the principalship, and b) the most pressing research needs in the area.

The groups were divided, for discussion purposes, as follows:

GROUP 1: Small and medium, rural, 7-12

GROUP 2: Large and medium, rural, K-12

GROUP 3: Large and medium, rural, K-6

GROUP 4: Small, rural, elementary and K-'2

GROUP 5: Medium and large, urban, K-8

GROUP 6: Large, urban, high school

GROUP 7: Small, urban, elementary

GROUP 8: General, grades 7 - 9

GROUP 9: Medium and large, 9-12.

An effort was made to categorize participants according to these criteria. The descriptors, though not a perfect representation, illustrate the general composition of the groups.

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Though a wide variety of concerns in the principalship were generated during the day's deliberations, a significant number of them recurred consistently within and across groups. An analysis of the large volume of comments yields four general categories of concern:

A Concerns related to working conditions.

B. Concerns related to outside influences an the role (legislation, community politics and role expectations).

C. Concerns related to relationships with other groups and individuals.

D Concerns related to task areas in the principal's job.

An overview of the extent to which each group identified concerns in each of these four categories is provided in Table 4. Several categories can be identified from this data as "general areas of concern" shared by principals across a variety of school settings. The mast clearly apparent shared concern was in the area of working conditions, while role expectations, relationships and the task areas of administration and supervision also emerged as common concerns for principals. The fact that no marked tendency toward particular concerns characterized any one type of group is perhaps an indication that the concerns identified are of significance in the principalship as a whole, and are of universal rather than particular significance. Same areas emphasized by particular groups should, however, be noted. The small and medium, rural 7-12 and the large and medium rural K-12 groups identified concerns with relationships mote than did other groups. The 7-9 school principals identified climate as an area of Concern more frequently than did other principals. The medium and large 9-12 and the medium and large rural K-6 principals were concerned with working conditions to a greater extent than were other groups. It is perhaps noteworthy that rural groups identified concerns with community politics more than did urban groups. This seemed to be the case in particular with rural secondary school principals.

The 30% in the "other" category for large urban high school principals should be explained. These people identified inservice preparation, professional involvement outside the school, and extracurricular involvement as concerns additional to those covered in Table 4.

There follows an examination of the specific concerns voiced by these groups according to the categories which have been outlined above.

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All groups had something to say about the conditions under which they work, and the degree to which these Conditions act as constraints to the effective performance of their tasks. In fact, if frequency of mention is a reliable measure, working conditions would seem to be the most pervasive and commonly experienced area of concern.

The item most frequently mentioned in regard to working conditions was that of time. In fact, mast groups identified concerns relating to same aspect of the principal's time. There seemed to be a general consensus that principals require a consideration of time free for certain tasks in order to be effective, and to adequately fulfill those tasks detailed in the rule description. Specific comments in this regard focused on the need for board policy on principals' time, the need for recognition of the importance of administrative and supervisory functions, the need for principals to have time free from actual teaching and the need for the establishment of adequate criteria by which principals' time for administration would be calculated. Same teaching principals voiced a strong concern about "trying to run the school from the classroom".

Lack of respect for the position was also identified as a concern by several groups. The job, according to one of these groups, is regarded as a second rate concern. It is not attractive and commands no respect. The evidence far this, according to another group, is in the meager administrative allowances which reflect upon the poor status of the principalship and in turn creates poor morale among principals. This concern may also find an explanation in the feeling of a number of groups that principals have little autonomy and decision-making power and, in some instances, receive little encouragement from a central office which has little understanding of school philosophy.

Another aspect of working conditions and the general "quality of principal's work life" was the concern about tenure in the principalship. One group expressed concern about the lack of access by principals to a legal process after demotion. In addition, principals were concerned about being "caught in the middle" in teacher-school board disputes over the quality of teachers' work-life.

Additional concerns related to working conditions were budgetary concerns (boards concerned more with dollars than education) and dilemmas in programming and staffing under budget constraints; the problem of isolation in the jab; the notion people have of the school as a "dumping ground" for all concerns; and the problems specific to the small school principal.

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Three types of outside influences an the role emerged strongly from the deliberations. These related to a) legislation, b) community politics and c) role expectations for the principalship.

a) The matter of legislation and its impact on the principalship was the subject of considerable comment in other parts of this study, and will consequently be dealt with under a later heading in this Report.

b) Community politics, particularly for rural principals, acted as a constraint in several forms. One group expressed concern of the increasing number of pressure groups and their demands on the principalship. Related to this is the increasing polarization of conflicting educational views and the difficulty which principals experience in mediating them. Changing community attitudes toward such issues as the value of academic education and the role of the teacher was also seen as a source of confusion for principals. This, together with the problem of outside agency involvement in the school, prompted one of the groups to note: "Everyone is an educational expert...Society, at large, parents and students all seem to be demanding different things from the total school".

Several groups identified problems associated with "local boards of trustees". Principals described awkward situations with local board members, such as those which occur "when Children of local board members are in the class, providing a direct hot-line to the local board". The use of gossip procedures by boards to handle complaints was also identified as a concern. One group referred to this as the "talking-on-the-street phenomenon". An additional factor is the conflict which may exist between local and division boards:

"...power conflict frequently takes place between local boards and division boards. ...when division boards say that the local boards are active', they mean that they are trouble makers".

Pressures also came from community members on the issue of commuting teachers. Specifically, pressures are for teachers to be involved in community activities and to patronize community business. At the same time, community members may oppose political involvement on the part of teachers: that is, there may be opposition to teachers having a say in community affairs. Further antipathy develops from perceptions as to the relative incomes of teachers and community members:

"...The antipathy which develops as community members see their relative incomes declining, while those of teachers and principals appear to be increasing. In ether words, perceived income differentials fuel poor school-community relationships".

These and other aspects of school-community relations are examined in more detail in terms of their implications for the principalship in the third Report of this Study.

c) Role expectations for the principalship were identified, as indicated earlier, by each of the groups as sources of concern in the principalship. The school, according to one group, "is expected to be all things to all people". There is a proliferation of expectations for the principal which are in many instances not consistent, and which present serious constraints to the performance of the jab. Another group described this concern in terms of:

..."The variety of expectations of the school and the school principal on the part of such groups as the division board, the local board, the town Council, church groups, the health center, the educational institutions, social services, as well as teachers, students and parents, and the problems of group conflicts, time expectations, and responsibilities associated with these different expectations".

Other principals described this problem as a "confusion of purpose". Because of this confusion of purpose, the principal is no longer certain of what he is supposed to be doing. One of the more specific examples given by groups in discussing this concern was the confusion surrounding the question of supervision of school staff.

The impression given by principals is that the problem of conflicting expectations is not an inevitable phenomenon which is part and parcel of the "territory". This problem, it seems, could be eased considerably through greater dialogue among groups, relating to the functions of School administration.

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There appeared to be a general concern that the roles of ether groups be clarified. Most commonly identified in this regard were the need for clarification of boards of trustees' roles and clarification of the role of the assistant director as it relates to the principal. In the latter instance, one group expressed concerns about "the isolation of the principal, and the need to develop more effective relationships between the central office and principals". They suggested that greater attention be devoted to building an "administrative team" with a view to providing, among other things, a source of mutual Support.

In expressing concerns about relationships with school boards, principals seemed concerned about their image as "the board's man" or "the fair-haired designate of the board" and the jeopardizing influence which this might have on relationships with staff.

A concern in relationships with children in the classroom was identified in terms of its impact upon school-community relations. As one group put it:

"If children take home good vibrations, this may build good relationships with the community more than anything else. Community relationships are directly proportional to relationships with children in the classroom".

Principals also identified this concern as a problem of communicating with other groups. Specifically, the principal's P.R. role among staff, students and the Community was identified.

Groups dealt with the problem of teacher morale in various ways. The Grades 7-9 group observed:

"The problem of teacher morale is influenced negatively by problems centered around social-emotional problems of small groups of junior-high school students. These are often family-related, and the principal's role at this level is more that of a morale builder".

Other groups dealt with the tendency even for the "good" teachers to stagnate, the effect of the administrative role an staff morale, and the effect of the increased concern devoted, in recent years, to the quality of teachers' work life.

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Six task areas of the principalship were identified with sources of concern in the role!

a) Teaching-related concerns mainly addressed the problems of "fragmentation" of the principal's role between teaching and administration. This gave rise in one group to the question of haw the principal is to be evaluated - on teaching and on administration. For other principals the concern was related to how the teaching principal can manage his time. It was noted that there are conflicting views on these issues. The problem of "teaching load" in relation to total work load was one which received considerable comment here and elsewhere in the study.

b) Concerns associated with administration similarly focused to a large extent on the balancing of administrative functions with other functions, particularly teaching. Administrative time, as illustrated earlier in this report, was a common concern. One group for example, commented on the time required to time-table and deal with course conflicts and teaches assignments. Same bitterness was also expressed about the lack of recognition of the commitment required on the part of principals in spending weekends and holidays working out the time-table. Several groups identified problems associated with building management. One group described these problems as follows:

"On top of the other principal's duties there are the problems of supervision of janitors, heating plant, rentals, care and maintenance of the building, and competition for scarce resources".

Ideas about budgeting were largely concentrated on the need for greater control of budget by the principal. Finally, several concerns emerged an the topic of the administration of noon-hour supervision by the principal. There appeared to he a general feeling of foreboding an the part of principals, particularly as to haw the issue would affect them. "Noon-hour supervision is becoming more of an issue", according to one of the groups, "and the principal is going to get it in the neck".

c) Concerns about the supervision of teachers were repeated by mast of the groups. There appeared to be a strong consensus that principals are being expected to be involved in staff supervision without the tools. Specifically, those tools were specified as inservice preparation on one hand, and time on the other. Principals were also largely agreed on the problem of teacher stagnation, staff apathy toward change, and teacher acceptance of borderline teaching performance. The following comments reflect the concern for professional growth and teacher renewal:

"There is a tendency for teachers - even initially the very good ones - to lose their enthusiasm and to Stagnate". "...there is often an uncertain area of uninspired and uncommitted teaching, and the role of the principal in improving instruction is unclear. There is a need for a more specific framework".

Several groups, though recognizing this type of problem, expressed concern over the difficulty involved in coping with it. In addition, principals seem to be keenly aware of the impact of supervision an School climate, and the possibility of resentment on the part of teachers:

"There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the question of "supervision" of school staff. There are greater demands from various quarters: The STF, school boards, department, etc. for supervision. In the light of these demands, there is same resentment by teachers directed at the supervisor, the principal".

d) Concerns related to students pertained largely to student discipline and control. It seems that school discipline is a key issue of significance to principals. Several principals raised concerns about the development of negative attitudes because of school discipline and the effects which this may have on the school. More specifically, one group identified "the problem of retaliation after school", noting that this is viewed as a threat to potential principals. A number of groups also tied discipline-related concerns to school climate and student morale.

In regard to attendance and truancy problems, mentioned by a few groups, the effect of excessive part-time work on student performance was identified as a concern. "Is the student a scholar or worker?" questioned one group. Another group elaborated as follows:

"In truancy concerns, there is a lack of support in the law, voluntary removal of kids by parents and sportsbodies for holidays and tournaments, and then there is the problem of reteaching content in the classroom when they return."

e) Concerns associated with the community leadership exercised Q the principal focused upon the coordinating and public relations functions of the principal in dealing with the community. Problems involving the use of school facilities by outside groups and agencies were predominantly identified ! by rural principals. An additional "rural" item was the compliant that communities take a long time to accept educators as members of the community. The principal, according to one group, has the difficult role of ensuring that the community plays a constructive, rather than a destructive or negative role in the school. "He has to generate, among the community, a respect for Professional educators". In this regard, another group noted that the local board can be a useful source of support: "Much depends upon the principal's skill in managing the local board. There is a need for principals to explain policies very carefully...rumors and distortions easily develop".

f) Climate-related concerns have been allotted to earlier in this discussion. As might be deduced from previous comments, staff Supervision and student discipline appear to be the two activities which concern principals most in their task of developing a positive, warm climate within the school. Two additional climate-related Concerns identified by the groups were: the problem of managing teacher workloads which are sometimes too heavy and unrealistic, and the problem of maintaining programs as decline takes place. According to principals, these are two stress-related concerns of increasing significance in school administration.

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The concerns and issues identified in the March Seminar seemed to be predominantly wide-ranging concerns of general significance to the principalship. There appeared to be a high level of agreement among principals from various backgrounds and situations as to the mast serious concerns in the job. These areas of concern may be summarized as shown in Figure I.

This constitutes a very broad summary of the major constraints to effective performance an the job as perceived by principals in Saskatchewan Settings. Several of these, either specified or implied in the discussion were researched further through the questionnaire, observations, interviews and sub-studies. Four areas which received specific attention were:

a) the impact of The Education Act,

b) principal training and professional development,

c) concerns of the small school principal and,

d) concerns of the new principal. A brief discussion of each of these will be provided in the remaining sections of this Report.

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Perceptions of Saskatchewan administrators relating to the impact of the Education Act (1978) on the role of the principal were solicited by questionnaire and by group interviews. Principals responded to the question: Do you have any concerns related to the effects of the Education Act (1978) upon your role? Their responses pointed to six central areas of concern. These, in order of frequency of mention, were as follows:



SUPERVISION OF STAFF (principal training/multiple expectations)




The following section presents a variety of principal comments relating to these areas.

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A variety of interesting verbatim responses to the question of the impact of The Education Act came from school principals themselves. Same of these are quoted below under the broad areas of concern which each represents:


"The school leaving age of 16 years is forcing sane reluctant students to remain in school. This has a detrimental effect an the school as a whole and causes extra administration problems."

"A lower compulsory age far students would be more beneficial to students."

"Compulsory age of 16 is wrong. This keeps students who are not able to cope in a school environment too long".


"Effective student management in terms of discipline has no supportive base."

"Act is too detached in same respects - i.e. in the area of dealing with discipline problems. Ways of dealing would be better set out in terms of operational guidelines with alternatives."


"Supervision of janitors and bus drivers???"

"The Act gives definite supervision expectations. Without supervisory time, this area of responsibility is Short-changed."

"Supervision process is not clearly provided for in principal training or time allotment."

"The Education Act wants supervision and evaluation (activities of each are contrary to each other) ."

"Possibility of forcing principals to be too involved with supervision and administration and away from being involved with students."

"The Act forces principals into a supervision role and then does not provide time for this in the smaller schools."

"The duties of supervision appear to be expanded with other expectations; yet clerical help and administrative time have not changed."


"Too many things are dumped on the principals' lap, i.e. bus drivers, janitors, programming, referrals supervision, etc. I feel that if all these various agencies are the responsibility of the principal, then the principals should he remunerated accordingly."

"Increase in expectations of principal while reducing power. Increase in interference from public."

"Principals appear to be more in a gray area than ever before - increased pressures, increased responsibilities, yet little additional functional power.

"Awesome responsibility, particularly from a legal viewpoint."

"All that responsibility and no power!.'"

"Jab description is much too broad."


"Act guidelines quite broad and open to interpretation which allows for a vast diversity of administrative styles and portfolios in every School. Large degree of inconsistency in administering schools from school to school and division to division."

"Imbalance between duties (heavy) and authority (too little). We seem to be expected to accomplish a lot but our power to do things is severely constricted in same areas."

"I am concerned about the Act giving everybody (parents, boards, kids) all the rights and the principals being perennially caught in the middle."

"The Act has put even more responsibility and pressure an principals. In many cases, the duties and responsibilities are not clearly defined."


"I feel that the question of noon hour supervision has became a burden on the principal."

"Neon hour supervision by teachers not clearly defined!."

"Not 'spelling out' whether teachers should or should not do noon hour supervision."

"The issue of 'noon hour supervision' should be settled once and for all."

"The effect that a walkout by staff for such things as noon hour supervision would have an my role as principal."

"The Education Act is unclear as to noon hour supervision duties."

"Under the Act teachers are not responsible for supervision but the principal has full responsibility. Where does that leave us when

teachers withdraw this service?"


The foregoing comments are representative of the considerable volume of information provided by principals on the topic of the Education Act. It is apparent from their comments in interviews, seminars and questionnaires that this topic currently represents a highly significant factor in principals' working lives.

In particular, principals point to three key effects of the Act upon their role. These are:

a) increased responsibility-

b) new expectations for Such activities as staff Supervision and the role conflicts each these have incurred for the principal;

c) wide variation in interpretation of the meaning of the Act for the principal's role.

Principals seem concerned that the Education Act has not alleviated the "caught in the middle" syndrome manifested in conflicts between guards teachers and students.

The major message in the comments made by principals is that Support is required in the form of guidelines ,in the provision of improved preparation for the job, and in the form of clearer role descriptions if principals are to do an adequate job of meeting their legislated mandate.

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From the information described earlier, in Table 1, there seems little doubt that educators in Saskatchewan perceive the principalship as a vocation requiring special training beyond that of staffs. Outside of the consensus around this general question, however, teachers, directors and trustees view the principalship from very different perspectives. These groups were asked, in the questionnaire survey, to assess the adequacy of principal training from the standpoint of their own positions. The results, as indicated in Table 5, graphically portray a marked difference in perception among the three groups.

From the data in Table 5, it can be seen that about 73 percent of the teachers perceived principal training to be either adequate or very adequate. This contrasted markedly to the proportion of trustees (59 percent) and directors (24 percent) who considered principal training to be in the adequate or very adequate categories. At the same time, almost 76 percent of the directors as opposed to only 27 percent of the trustees and 25 percent of the teachers perceived the training of principals to be inadequate.

Rural respondents in all three groups perceived less adequacy in the training of principals than did their urban counterparts.

The question of what special professional training is essential for the principalship was also addressed in the questionnaire. Principals, trustees and directors, in dealing with this question, identified courses in Educational Administration as an essential component. These groups, particularly trustees, were much less adamant that such training had to be at the graduate level, thereby leaving the impression that alternative Educational Administration courses, not necessarily at the graduate level, could be offered in specific areas pertaining to the principalship.

The following emerged as the nine most frequently suggested areas of training:

Supervision skills

Human relations (personnel and public)

Time management and organization theory

Psychology and counseling skills

Communication skills

Leadership models

Curriculum development and implementation

Budgeting and finance

The Education Act and legal implications

For principals, the three most frequently identified were supervision, human relations and time management; for trustees, the three most significant were human relations, budgeting and finance, and time management; directors identified supervision Skills, Communication skills and curriculum development most frequently.


A second day long seminar was held in May, 1983, involving forty-five administrators representing schools and school systems of various sizes and locations in Saskatchewan. The purpose of this session was to generate ate feedback and to develop ideas concerning the content and method of delivery of formal preparation programs and inservice programs far principals. The selection of those invited to participate was controlled to allow for representation of participants according to position, rural or urban location, and grade structure of schools. (It should be noted once more that 'urban' participants were identified as employed within one of the twelve cities in Saskatchewan. Of the ten directors and superintendents, four were from 'urban' systems). For the purposes of information collection, participants were divided into four groups consisting of twelve rural elementary school principals, twelve urban principals, eleven rural high school principals and ten directors and superintendents of education.

The first part of the day dealt with formal preparation Programs. Based upon an initial discussion of the competencies required in the principalship, groups focused their deliberations en the following question:

"If you were in a position where you were free to develop programs of preparation for the school Principalship, what would be the content of such programs? Haw would that content be delivered? Haw frequently? Who should be responsible for the programs'

Group perceptions as to a) content and b) method of delivery of formal programs are summarized as follows:

a) Content. One group discussed the content of formal preparation programs in terms of three types of activity: a) clinical, b) theoretical, and c) experiential. Clinical Content refers to controlled practice and honing of skills in the academic setting, while experiential content refers to field-based practice and learning experiences in actual school and school system contexts. Utilizing this categorization, the content suggested by the four groups can be summarized as in Figure II.

The information contained in Figure II represents a composite picture of the feelings of the four seminar groups concerning what should be the Content of formal preparation Programs. It should be noted that there was considerable consensus between groups for what that content should include. While recognizing the value of the content currently offered in preparation programs for principals, both principals and superintendents articulated a need far greater attention to the "clinical" and "experiential" items identified in Figure II, particularly the "nuts and bolts" type of activity relating to the day-to-day tasks of the principal. One group suggested that the universities actively seek out input regarding programs for the preparation of school administrators; a second group observed: "needs change, therefore needs for training change".

b) Method of delivery It was generally agreed that there should be an initial period of formal training for principals. Although one group expressed that this should be primarily university-based, several others identified alternative methods of delivery of formal Preparation programs. The requirements of formal university programs plus field experiences (practical) seemed to be a basic qualification which mast groups concurred with. In regard to the internship, and practicum, there was a clear statement from the total group that there is considerable value in practical training, with experienced principals and division-level administrators. In addition, one of the groups suggested that formal programs be accompanied by workshops in such areas as stress management and communication.

Comments revealed that a variety of alternative programs of preparation could ideally be available for principals. In fact, the point was made that alternative routes to the principalship should exist with an emphasis on same form of certification. The latter feeling, concerning certification or accreditation was a general one among the groups. It will be dealt with more fully in Report g4. In one instance, the ideas of certification and the formal program were integrated in the form of a suggestion:

"There should be a separate Certification program and degree program, the first being specific and practical, the Second being general and abstract. The first consisting of survival skills, basic orientation, an intense principals' "Long Course", and packages are models from the university (open university), the second consisting of a choice between a Post-Graduate Diploma Program and a Masters Program."

Interagency involvement was considered an important factor in putting such programs into operation. Apart from the university role in academic programs, and the Teachers' Federation involvement in professional aspects, groups noted that the Department of Education has a significant part to play in introducing and clarifying regulations concerning certification. It was also observed that the principals' professional organization should have some stake in principal preparation programs.


The verbatim comments made by principals, teachers, trustees and directors in interviews and questionnaires, provide some additional insight to the ideas discussed above. A selection of these follows:


"Do away with the Past-Graduate Diploma in Educational Administration. People are taking it for financial rather than academic reasons."


"My concern is that principals do not have to do any preservice training for the principalship."


"Preservice Programs are lacking in that they don't adequately provide human relations and managerial skills for principals."


"I would like to have had a little more university education before going out to the field, but if I had taken all of my classes, it wouldn't have made me a better principal. Occasional leave (for Sessions in winter and spring) is useful for keeping current."


"Principals have got to go back to school more often than they are at present. Business Management courses would be a good idea."


"There should be some prerequisites to the principalship, but people are not all accessible by the University. A better idea might be a 'short course' with certain requirements which would be a basic training requisite."


"You have to be a special person to cape with the role of the principal and all that it involves.


"I don't think principals have had nearly enough administrative training."


"Our principals are inadequately trained. Generally good teachers are promoted out of the classroom."


"Same principals have been trained on the jab. This is not enough."


"Preservice programs should stress the leadership role. It most provide a background that makes the principal flexible. A knowledge of program development is essential."


"Principals being hired today seem quite well trained. Same training should occur on the jab."


"Certain people can be good principals regardless of training."

The foregoing comments suggest a general feeling that principals should undergo same form of training for the position, but that this should not represent a final point in administrative training. This re-emphasizes the point made earlier that training is an on-going concern. In regard to the nature of training, educators seem to perceive a need for internship and practical experiences directly related to the principal's role as integral components of preservice training.

It is apparent that existing provisions are inadequate to meet the requirements for adequate performance of the job. A common theme in the foregoing comments relates to access. We need to provide programs which are relevant, current, and appropriate to the leadership role. At the same time, such programs have to be made available to individuals. This would be particularly vital if a program of preparation were to became mandatory, as many individuals in this study have advocated.

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The concept of professional growth implies an ongoing sequential event, suggesting that "growth" does not end with the completion of Preservice training. The significance of this concept for school administrators in that professional growth is a continuum from Preservice training to inservice work. Consequently, as much attention should be given to the inservice professional development of principals as to the preparation they receive prior to their appointment to the principalship.

To date, much of the attention in regard to inservice programs has been devoted to teachers and counselors, while the needs of principals and other administrators have been neglected. Those inservice activities which have been provided for principals have typically been one-shot, fragmented efforts directed at general groups of administrators and have not taken into consideration the variety of backgrounds of principals with concomitantly dissimilar school situations.

Principals were asked, in the questionnaire survey, about the professional activities which they perceived to be most useful to them the performance of their job. They chose from the following items:

Professional hooks

The provincial administrators' journal

The annual principals' short course

Visits to other schools to observe other administrators

Regular meetings of principals in the system

The annual provincial administrators' conference

Inservice provided in the school or division

Self directed learning initiated by the individual.

For both rural and urban principals, the four most important activities were self directed learning, principals' meetings in the system, inservice provided within the system, and professional reading. It should be noted that inservice within the system was rated as useful more frequently by urban than by rural principals. In regard to other professional development activities, the annual provincial administrators' conference was rated less useful by urban principals than by rural principals. Likewise the annual principals' short course was rated less useful by urban than by rural principals. Visits to other schools were identified by urban principals as useful moreso than they were identified by rural principals. Prohibitive distance and time would in many instances seem to be major barriers to the involvement of rural principals in this type of activity.


The content and method of delivery of programs of inservice professional development of principals was also a major focus of the second Principalship Seminar. Groups addressed the following questions:

What types of programs can realistically be offered

What would you like to see made available to principals?

How can various agencies in education be usefully involved How frequently and for what duration should specific types of programs run How can arrangements he made for professional development at the school level, the division level, the Provincial level, out of Province?

There follows a summary of group perceptions concerning inservice content and method of delivery:

a) Inservice Content

The perceptions of each group as they pertain to the content of principal inservice are presented in Figure III.

It can be seen from the lists of 'priorities' in Figure III that there was same considerable variation a) in priorities from group to group and b) in the degree of specificity associated with priorities. The most commonly identified content seemed to be around three areas:

a) Developments in curriculum and instruction.

b) Computer technology.

c) Supervision of instruction.

There would seem, from the list of priorities, to be two types of inservice items: a) the perennial items, those which will always be common inservice topics because they address areas of concern which will always exist in school administration; and, b) the emergent items, relating to current issues of general or local interest which are of relevance to the principal's role. The responses of the four groups in our study reflect both types of items, though the groups showed a greater preference for inservice relating to the perennial an-going problems of school administration.

b) Method of Inservice Delivery

Participants had much to say concerning the method of delivery of inservice for school principals in Saskatchewan. Inherent in many of the responses were evaluations of the present system. In this regard., several points were made by the groups and reinforced in the plenary session:

a) There is a lack of coordination of agency involvement in the provision of inservice for principals.

b) There are considerable disparities in the opportunities provided for principals in rural as opposed to urban systems,

c) Inservice activities rarely seem to go beyond the "one- shot" affair.

The specific recommendations concerning method of delivery are described below, as reported by each group of participants.

Rural Elementary Principals. Facilitating effective inservice program requires:

a) multi-system shared services for principals' inservice-

b) an umbrella organization of principals to coordinate ~-" professional development;

c) more "short course" types of programs on the principalship;

d) improved utilization of media.

In regard to agency involvement, there is a need for:

a) increased funding;

b) a commitment on the part of school hoards to provide time-

c) improved support and involvement by the teachers' Federation.

This group suggested that frequency and duration should be approximately twice per year for more than one day and once for one week (even if this latter time were during a holiday). They also noted that principals themselves must became committed to the notion of professional development.

Urban Principals. This group had several suggestions for the improvement of inservice opportunities; the mast clearly emphasized was the provision of opportunities which address individual situations and are based upon a concept of "self-initiated direction". In addition, this group suggested the provision for:

a) a short-course for the "old guys";

b) increased involvement of university personnel;

c) instructional as well as administrative issues.

Concerning agency involvement, the need for greater Teachers' Federation involvement in principal inservice opportunities, sabbaticals, educational leaves and principal exchanges were identified. This group also voiced the need for a strong principals' association at the Provincial level.

Rural High School Principals. The major point made by the rural high school principals' group was that effective inservice should be ongoing. Material should be given, practiced and then reinforced in subsequent sessions. Toward this end, it would be useful to have a thematic approach over an extended period of time. This group suggested that a certain amount of "pre-seminar" work would make sessions more valuable. Other suggestions for more effective inservice included:

a) using other principals as a resource;

b) encouraging interschool visitations;

c) sending representatives from the system to major


d) improving principal evaluation to provide for diagnostic

feedback on performance.

In addition, several recommendations for the role of school boards were made. These involved:

a) the release of principals for inservice activities;

b) the encouragement of principals to take advantage of inservice throughout their career;

c) the provision of administrative release time:

d) the annual earmarking of funds for administrative inservice.

Directors, according to this group, have a dual role in facilitation

inservice opportunities and becoming involved in them.

Directors and Assistants. This group observed that the problem with present inservice opportunities is not one of provision, it is one of coordination. Several points were made concerning ways of making the delivery of inservice to principals more effective:

a) the consideration of phases of development of the administrator;

b) the development of access to private groups of consultants,-

c) the recognition of individual needs and situations;

d) the provision of opportunities both inside and outside the Province,-

e) the provision of bursary opportunities for inservice professional development;

f) the inclusion of vice-principals. The recognition of a training period prior to the principalship.

The directors' group noted that existing inservice activities are excessively narrow. As other groups suggested, they recommended that there be a pattern to an effective professional development program, that it should not "end" after one session. Further, this group observed that inservice content tends to be thrust upon principals rather than them having a say in what the content should be.


In order to provide further elaboration on this important aspect of the principalship, several verbatim comments from questionnaires and individual interviews are recorded below:


"The opportunities don't exist in our system for principals' inservice. For the mast part, principals' meetings are used, the rest is general and teacher-focused. There is nothing special for principals."


"It is useless for me to go to the Principals' Short Course. It is really designed for beginning principals; if we have a Masters, much of it is redundant."


"The Teachers' Federation is currently not doing much for principals. But, are they in the position to do this?"


"We have had principals in this System over ten Years who have never taken a course, or had any decent inservice."


"Why not involve teachers at principals' inservices?"


"One of the problems is that we have principals from a wide variety of schools, K-6, 7-9, K-12, 9-12, and quite often the topics we take are not directly related to our own situation."


"The problem with inservice is that if it is a one-shot deal, more follow-up is necessary. We spend too much time on awareness only."


"Generally, inservice is improving. The direction we are taking is good. But we need work on follow-up. The university educational administration departments should provide the leadership."

10-12 TEACHER:

"Inservice boils dawn to commitment an behalf of the principal."

It would appear that the professional development opportunities for principals in Saskatchewan are in need of improvement. The above comments, and many others received from interviews and questionnaires, point to four suggestions in particular:

l. Inservice should be relevant to principals in various school situations.

2. Inservice activities far principals most go beyond the one short affair

3. Adequate follow-up is as important as the inservice itself

4. Key agencies in education must become more active partners in the provision of meaningful professional development opportunities to principals.

While a large onus of responsibility should rest with principals themselves when it comes to personal professional development, school boards can go a long way toward an effective program of inservice for principals by means of a clearly enunciated policy at the system level.

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Two investigations of same considerable significance in understanding concerns and issues in the principalship were undertaken as sub-studies of the principalship project. They are briefly described here.

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The administration of the small school involves demands upon the principal which are difficult to meet effectively, particularly at a time when budgetary allotments are tighter and the demands from the communities for high quality educational programs are greater. The constraints experienced by the principal of the small school, particularly the small rural school, are significant sources of concern, if for no other reason than the fact that there are so many schools in rural Saskatchewan jurisdictions which may be categorized as "small".

In an investigation involving 12 schools with an average enrollment of 213 students, Sahar (1983) identified major constraints identified by principals as most pervasive in the performance of their tasks. A large part of the information was collected by means of structured interviews with principals.

The constraints specific to the principal of the small rural school were identified (in order of seriousness) as follows:

a) Lack of release time far teacher supervision The expectation that the principal conduct formative supervision of staff, while the director is responsible for summative evaluation carries with it a demand on the time available to the principal.

b) Inadequate facility and difficulties in plant management. For same principals, the design and age of the school posed problems for effective administration and teaching in the facility, for others the major concern lay in the difficulty of motivating the Caretaker to do a better job. As one principal noted: "There are times when it is difficult to obtain a good school caretaker. Once a principal has secure.'! a good one, he should make every effort to keep him, for he is hard to replace".

c) Inconsistent and unrealistic parental expectations. This constraint for same principals stemmed from the expectation of same parents that the school be responsible for the total development of the child. In regard to this unrealistic expectation, it was pointed out by one principal that "the school can only Bo so much". Another noted: "There should be a firm stand taken to indicate to parents and the community that the school is not the only institution for educating children. The home must be responsible".

d) Lack of programs for students with special needs Particular emphasis was given by principals to the lack of opportunities, within their schools, for gifted students. It was observed that meeting this need becomes even more difficult in a multi-graded setting.

e) The difficulty in motivating professional staff. Principals felt strongly that their training in this area was not adequate, particularly in regard to human relations and communication skills.

f) The unnecessary proliferation of curriculum offerings. A common concern among the small school principals was the difficulty of keeping up with the total school offerings in the face of so many changes in the curriculum and the addition of new curricula. This, it was noted, is also tied to the need for release time: "More release time is needed to study the curriculum properly or else one becomes poorly informed. when discussing methodology with teachers".

g) Difficulties in school organizational structure. The impact of the addition of multigraded classrooms on school structure and class load was identified as a constraint, particularly in regard. to motivating teachers to accept this new role and to adopt different techniques. It was also noted that multigraded schools tend to hinder the teaching of such subjects as music to smaller groups of students.

h) Difficulties in balancing the academic and vocational programs There is a lack of opportunity in small communities for vocational programs. As one principal commented: "There must be same mechanism to help the student who cannot cope academically in tae school". At the same time, mast principals emphasized the need to keep the academic program in the forefront.


Given the widespread distribution of small schools of various grade structures throughout Saskatchewan, the concerns of principals in this type of setting should be of significance to policy making agencies and, of course principals themselves. It would seem, from the concerns which were identified, that many of the constraints were beyond the control of the individual principal. In fact, forces from outside the school would appear to be greater in the small school community setting in rural Saskatchewan. This observation may be borne out by the perceptions of rural principals recorded earlier in this Report.

The implications derived from this sub-study pertained to

The need for administrative release time.

The need for improved channels of communication between the school and the local community.

The need to clarify supervision procedures for the principal of the small school.

The need for principals of small schools to be familiar with developments in teaching in multigraded situations. The need for inservice appropriate to principals in small school settings.

The need for recognition, by principals, of the closeness of professional life to personal life in the small rural school community setting.

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The first-year principalship most frequently involves, for the individual, the assumption of new responsibilities which are not related to the teaching environment from which he or she has been "promoted". This usually brings with it certain problems of adjustment either to the new job or to what might very well be a different community or type of school from what one has been used to.

A second "sub-study" of the principalship project was conducted in 1983 (Loehndorff), in which questionnaires were administered to four groups of individuals to gain a broader perspective on the first-year principalship. Responses were obtained from 81 grades 9-12 students, 14 staff members, 8 directors of education and 7 first-year principals. In addition, some of these responses were supplemented through discussion, with 100 participants at the 1983 Saskatchewan principals' Short Course.

Specifically, this investigation was designed to determine a) How new principals were hired and oriented to their positions, b) what were perceived to be the greatest problems of new principals in regard to the job, and c) what were perceived to be the most important inservice needs of new principals.


Each of the principals in this investigation had been interviewed in same sort of formal interview. However, only four of the seven had any kind of formal orientation to the school, and only one principal had been given an opportunity to meet the director and talk over expectations of the school division- The most positive aspects of the hiring process, according to these principals, had been (in order of frequency of mention):

the support of the director:

the support of the local board;

meeting with the director prior to signing the contract;

two days in the new school in June.

When asked what part of the process they would have changed, by far the most common response was that they would like to have had an orientation to the school and the staff. One principal noted that it should have been emphasized far more than it was in his case.

It should be noted here, that in a study of principal selection, undertaken by Loder (1982), also under the auspices of this principalship project, there were found to be few systematic and processes for selecting school principals in Saskatchewan systems.

B. PROBLEMS When asked what, in retrospect they felt least prepared for, principals responded with: "We Paper work", "budgeting", "time management", "public speaking", "everybody wanting their pound of flesh", and "staff supervision".

The most commonly mentioned problems and. pitfalls for new principals were identified' as follows:

Lack of initial acceptance by staff, students and community.

A feeling of being overwhelmed by the complexity of the job.

Time management - there will always be more to do than

can be accomplished in the time available

Impatience - a desire to make changes immediately rather than waiting far the right 'Political climate.

Apathy or resentment an t% part of staff members in the school.

Proving to students and teachers that you are fair to all.

Setting a timetable acceptable and fair to all staff members.

Keeping informal organization from eroding the formal organization.

Staff relations.

Student discipline.

Making false assumptions about what the community will accept (misjudge their zone of indifference) .

Lacking the necessary solitude in decision making.

C. INSERVICE NEEDS. "The three most significant items identified by the new principals were:

Staff development approaches

How to build a positive School climate

The Saskatchewan Education Act (I978).

This sub-study also emphasized the need far continual inservice. In ambition, it pointed out that the support and encouragement of the Director of Education would. help new principals became better prepared for their new position. It also reinforced the idea that principals require sufficient pre-service "grounding" to ensure that individuals are ready to accept the awesome responsibility of coordinating the effective operation of the school. As Loehndorff (at the time a "new" principal himself suggests:

"The time is right for us to take the initiative and show the leadership needed to make sure that our school leaders are willing, ready and able to fight the battle that lies in store for them in running an effective school."

IMPLICATIONS FROM THE STUDY OF THE MEW PRINCIPAL: All groups were agreed on the suggestion that principals take time to familiarize themselves with staff and students as early as possible. Groups were also agreed as to the principal's responsibility to build a positive "ethos" within the school.

It is clear that there are certain "Iearnable" concepts that can enhance a principal's Chances of Success. Such concepts Should be part of a required program for a11 new principals, and would include supervision, educational law, staff development, curriculum leadership, and school climate development, as central Components.

There are specific implications for directors and school boards in that support must be provided for- the new principal in the form of early orientation, leadership and direction from the director, and assistance from the board in gaining the respect and encouragement of the community.

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