Rektorer bör och rektorer gör
Sammanfattning: The purpose of the thesis is to study whether any special professional norms exist with regard to principals’ leadership of the democratic mission which is presented to the schools. The aim is to identify norms in order to be able to later analyse and understand them. Norms exist in groups of various types, and by using the term “norm” I am addressing the actions of principals, rather than their individual personal characteristics. It is what principals should be doing according to the Swedish School Act, the Swedish Compulsory School Ordinance and their curricula – that serves as the point of departure for the study, and from there I proceed to study what principals are doing based on the interpreted mission. The first research question is: How do principals interpret the democratic mission presented to the schools? I interpret the responses of the principals regarding their actions as follows: they do not distinguish the democratic mission as a separate one, but rather view it as part of the whole process of leading the school. Most of the principals describe their management style as one that involves numerous dialogues, and they speak more about listening to others than about talking themselves. The principals also talk more about working with democratic processes that involve large numbers of people than about making quick decisions by themselves. The second research question is: How do principals translate this mission into concrete actions? This question reveals that physical presence and different types of dialogue are central to how the mission translates into democracy in practice. The final research question is: What professional norms for leadership are inherent in the principals’ concrete actions? This is the central issue in this study, and I have used the essential and accidental attributes of the norms in order to identify and to understand them. The step-by-step method, two rounds of one-by-one interviews and two rounds of focus group interviews with 14 principals, has led me in two directions. One has led toward action instructions that can also be viewed as general norms for a democratic principal. The results point to the complexity of the mission. The items are intertwined, and they can also find themselves on a collision course, with the result that principals have to choose to follow the norm that fits the specific situation in question. The other direction goes into greater depth in six identified dilemmas or problem areas in the context of the democratic mission. In general it has been difficult to identify clear signs of any separate professional reproduction of norms among or for principals. The norm perspective, used in the thesis, has to do with understanding schools and, in this case, the leadership provided by principals. Social and professional norms are formed and changed in the contexts in which they exist, and the norm perspective offers one of a number of possible ways of understanding the actions and patterns of actions of which the principals’ activities consist. One of the identified norms is that principals should have self-awareness. The principals speak about the importance of reflection for greater self-awareness. Applying a norm perspective could enable the principals to acquire the linguistic terms and concepts to allow them to reflect on their own actions and those of others. Through reflection, the principals could become more highly aware of their own actions. They can then choose whether they will be governed by a social norm, a norm for teachers or a separate norm for principals, or if they wish to act in their own individual way. Should principals be norm followers, norm breakers or change agents? Which is in the best interests of the pupils?
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