Principals & Fitting In
Daniel Duke & Edward Iwanicki wrote a brief article in 1985 discussing the idea of “fit” between a principal and the school, community, and district context. They explored 9 cases of principals who were fired or reassigned due to (according to their superiors) a lack of fit rather than poor performance.
In one case, a principal was removed due to a perceived inability to handle the workload of leading a large school (p. 29). In other cases, the removal was due to communication, decision-making, handling change, or other factors.
How can principals avoid problems with “fit”? The authors suggest that principals must filter the expectations of their various constituencies, developing their “received role,” or the set of expectations they accept:
The earlier principals share the job expectations that they believe are real and important to fulfill, the easier it is to deal with any potential problems of fit. p. 30
In other words, principals must clearly understand what’s expected of them, and strive to fulfill the most important expectations of their critical constituencies. Of course, discerning which constituencies and which expectations to attend to, and how to fulfill them, is no small matter.
Duke, D. L. and R. J. Stiggins (1985). “Evaluating the Performance of Principals: A Descriptive Study.” Educational Administration Quarterly 21(4): 71-98.