Balancing Act: The Professional and Personal Lives of Female Elementary School Principals

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Title: Balancing Act: The Professional and Personal Lives of Female Elementary School Principals
Author: Burns, Melissa Bryant
Advisors: Dr. Kenneth H. Brinson, Jnr., Committee Member
Dr. Lance Fusarelli, Committee Chair
Dr. Bonnie Fusarelli, Committee Member
Dr. Steven Bingham, Committee Member
Abstract: BURNS, MELISSA BRYANT. The Balance of Professional and Personal Lives of Female Elementary School Principals. (Under the direction of Dr. Lance Fusarelli). The purpose of this research was to understand what female elementary school principals perceive as a balance between their personal and professional lives. The role of the elementary school principal has changed significantly over the past several decades. The demands of time, effort, relationships, and high-stakes accountability have all increased tremendously. These factors have a significant impact on the work-home balance for female elementary school principals as they attempt to achieve balance in their professional and personal lives. This research describes how fifteen elementary school principals, who are mothers, attempt to maintain a balance between work and home. It is a phenomenological study of their lives and how they manage their responsibilities as a principal and mother. Data was collected through five one-on-one interviews including a follow-up interview with four of the five subjects and a focus group of ten principals. Findings affirm how the role of the elementary school principal has changed during the years as leader of instruction versus school manager. The principals describe their role as demanding and overwhelming at times, while being rewarding and satisfying. However, they stated that time and family responsibilities were consistent challenges to creating a balance in their lives. Setting priorities, making schedules, coordinating calendars, and taking time for yourself and your family seemed to be the repeating themes during the interviews as the greatest strategies for seeking a balance. Planning ahead, modeling for staff members, and communicating values were other helpful strategies and tools pointed out by the participants. Future research is suggested in the development of district wellness plans to examine both the sources and processes of helping principals to create balance in their lives which are necessary to sustain a positive, healthy principal. There is a need for well and healthy instructional leaders for our schools to fulfill the rapid succession of many principals leaving the principalship. School districts would be wise to consider the modest investment necessary to implement a wellness program for all principals.
Date: 2009-12-02
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Educational Administration and Supervision

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