Leading Ladies: Portraits of Principals: The Leadership Styles and Practices of Women Secondary School Principals Reflected within a Principal Professional Learning Community
Recent New Zealand Ministry of Education documents highlight the challenge to provide professional learning opportunities for principals and the current initiative to support and strengthen school leadership through the Professional Leadership Strategy. There is a need for professional development strategies and opportunities that help principals more effectively understand their school contexts, responsibilities and their own competencies, leadership styles and practice. To transfer and be sustainable, effective leadership practice requires the building of principal leadership learning communities within individual New Zealand school contexts. This thesis builds on previous studies of New Zealand women principals' experiences of leadership, contributing to a greater insight into the identities, role and practice of women principals while modelling a framework for reflective practice as a tool for professional and educational leadership development. As an iconographic study of three New Zealand women secondary school principals this thesis exhibits the life stories and experiences which have impacted upon their personal theories about leadership styles and practice. Composed through a métissage (merging) of image and dialogue to create portraits of the principal's leadership identities it is set in situ within a principal professional learning community. A qualitative, multiple-case studies methodology was employed. The design was informed by a reflective practitioner approach and action learning orientation underpinned by arts-based inquiry, a methodological and theoretical genre that proposes a reinterpretation of the methods and ethics of human social research. The findings indicate that the personal development, self-awareness and growth of a leader are a catalyst to stimulate collective development and accomplishment.