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Cieminski, Amie B.

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This phenomenological study presented the lived experiences of eight high school principals who led through the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants represented eight different school from five school districts from across Colorado. Each participant’s school implemented 1:1 devices, namely Chromebooks or iPads, for each student prior to the pandemic’s onset. The research question that guided this study was: What are lived experiences of high school principals who led through the COVID-19 pandemic? Data were collected via one-hour, individual, semi-structured interviews in person or via Zoom, then transcribed and analyzed. A phenomenological approach to the data was employed while implementing bridling methods on the researcher’s part. Three key themes emerged from the data. Theme 1 included hardships of the pandemic and contained five subthemes: (a) the pandemic was hard on leaders, (b) the pandemic was hard on teachers, (c) the pandemic was hard on students, (d) the pandemic was hard on the community, and (e) symbolic events helped ease hardships. Theme 2 was the pandemic as catalyst and presented four subthemes: (a) catalyst for shifts in grading practices, (b) catalyst for shifts in weekly schedules, (c) catalyst for shifts in meeting protocols, (d) catalyst for a renewed focus on the leaders’ work. The final theme was support is critical. The third theme included five subthemes: (a) district support for leaders, (b) mental health support for the school community, (c) school leaders’ support for teachers, (d) school leaders’ support for self, and (e) school leaders creating connections as support. Significant statements directly from interviews with the participants were included to support the findings. A summary and discussion of the findings and their relation to the literature, implications for policy and practice, and recommendations for school leaders and future research are also presented.


148 pages

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