Resilience and Adaptability: A Phenomenological Study Examining Principal Retention Prior to, Amid, and Post The Covid-19 Pandemic



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The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study examined the lived experiences of principals prior to, amid, and post the COVID-19 pandemic and the contextual factors that they described as being supportive or constraining for principal retention. This study collected data from semi structured interviews of a purposive sample of 10 principals with five years or more of principal experience from a large urban school district located in Southeast Texas. An inductive coding process was utilized to reveal a total of 21 themes for principals’ challenges and supports received prior to, amid, and post the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings parallel to the literature on challenges principals encounter that contribute to principal burnout. Results regarding the lived experiences of principals prior to, amid, and post the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that the principal role, challenges principals encountered, and what aided principals to overcome challenges changed over time. Participants shared that there were already challenges prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic exacerbated existing challenges making the role of a principal much more difficult even after the pandemic was over. While participants didn’t share as much support that was provided to them prior to the pandemic, they revealed a sense of unity during and in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic from their colleagues, immediate supervisors, and the school community. The findings further revealed that while a principal’s sense of purpose is a major driving force to overcome challenges and to remain in the role, district leaders can supplement their drive by providing a variety of supports that they value such as coaching and developing from their immediate supervisors along with effective two-way communication, autonomy from district leaders, and a platform for principals to collaborate.



Principal Retention