Identities of principals leading successful schools in deprived contexts: a narrative inquiry.
Ngidi, Sihle Siyabonga.
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This is a qualitative study that explored the identities of principals that are leading successful schools in deprived contexts. The study comprised of three principals from three education district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The participants were purposefully selected due to meeting the requirements of the study. The schools from which the principals lead were rural schools and one township school, which are laden with various deprivations. These schools regardless of the deprived contexts are successful. The aims of the study were two-fold. Firstly, it aimed at discovering the identities that are common and those that are exclusive to individual participants (Principals) leading successful schools in deprived contexts. Secondly, it sought to establish how these identities intersect and shape the leadership of the Principals in the study. The study adopted the qualitative research design. Narrative Inquiry was used as a methodology. In line with Narrative Inquiry methodology, the study employed three methods of generating field texts (data), namely: conversational interviews, narrative posters and letter writing. The analysis was done at two levels. First level is the retelling of narratives (narrative analysis) and the second level is the identification of emerging identities from the narratives (analysis of narratives). As a theoretical framework, the study adopted the intersectionality theory as a primary frame and social identity theory as a subsidiary frame to aid in the analysis. Some of the findings from the study confirm the existing literature on identities of principals. However, it does also presents ‘fresh’ perspectives on the phenomenon under study. This study has shown that the principals that are leading successful schools in deprived contexts are: 1. Visionary leaders, 2. Time conscious, 3. Team players, and 4. problem solvers. From this inquiry, I also learned that leadership position shapes the principal’s identity as much as identity influences the leadership practice. The new contribution the study is making to the body of knowledge is that: 1. experience which can either be negative or positive can shape someone’s identity. The negative experience can result in a positive identity.