"Do you have a minute?" : a study of the first-year principal's interactions and relationships



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Each year, as more school principals retire, other leaders take their place--many of them becoming principals for the first time. While this change in leadership can be disconcerting to the students, parents, teachers, and other staff members, it is most taxing for the new principal, who is immediately inundated with the various demands on his or her time. In order for the new principal to navigate these challenges effectively, it is important that he or she is ready and equipped for this transition and prepared to participate successfully in the day-to-day interactions with others. Using ethnographic qualitative methodology, this study sought to examine the first-year principal's interactions with parents and staff members. Telling the stories of two first-year principals, the study explored the issues and challenges faced by these principals as they interacted with the various institutional stakeholders. In its treatment of interpersonal interactions, the study assembled a broad archive, including oral accounts, interviews, personal journals, calendars, and emails. The data were then examined through Bolman and Deal's (2008) "frame" theory, which was offered as a comprehensive approach for looking at organizations from more than one theoretical perspective. Viewing the data through the structural, human, political, and symbolic frames provides a more in-depth examination of the principals' various interactions with parents and staff members during their first year as principal. Dissecting a first-year principal's interactions in the setting of a school, this research extends Bolman and Deal's four-frame theory (2008) by analyzing three types of principal/stakeholder interactions through each of the four frames. A problem-solving interactions protocol and a set of guiding questions are offered to assist new leaders as they prepare for various interactions of each type.