Leading schools through COVID-19: a constraint or an opportunity for change?

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The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic undermined basic routines and typical conduct of schools, introducing uncertainty and instability to an extent that schools had never encountered in the last decades. The current study focuses on leaders' coping strategies while struggling to maintain school stability and on the extent to which these extreme conditions of uncertainty and turbulence may potentially promote innovation and change, as many stakeholders argue. Interviews conducted with eleven school leaders reveal that they have invested efforts to maintain school stability and decrease teachers’ and students' stress. They changed school priorities, placing more emphasis on the wellbeing of teachers and students than on academic achievements. They shifted control patterns from centralized to collaborative ones with extended autonomy to teachers. They increased the support they provided teachers and created open communication channels. Although many school leaders viewed the pandemic as an opportunity for change, all of them agreed that schools would not dramatically change. All principals shared the notion that it is more likely that schools would return to their traditional routines and modes of operation with only minor changes after the pandemic is over. Some implications of extreme turbulence on innovation-oriented planning are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
JournalEducational Planning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


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