Department of Educational Administration



Taeyeon Kim

Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Educational Management Administration & Leadership (2022) DOI: 10.1177/17411432221132100


Copyright © 2022 Taeyeon Kim. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


This study aims to explore reimagined accountability through collective efforts initiated by school leaders and to challenge the fixed notion of accountability prescribed by policy scripts. Drawing on studies highlighting humanizing leadership and the metaphors of “agora” and “bazaar,” I investigate how school leaders (re)construct and (re)define meanings of accountability in their daily practices. Using portraiture as research method, I analyze qualitative data collected through observation, interviews, and artifacts in a rural school in the United States, over the course of the 2018–2019 school year. In contrast to prevalent discourses around technical, performance-driven approaches to accountability, the principal and teachers in this portraiture illuminate a culture of accountability deeply rooted in care, respect, and shared responsibility to support students’ growth. This accountability space exemplifies student-centeredness, teachers’ professional agency, and belonging as community in the daily interactions and symbolic celebrations. I conclude this article by highlighting the importance of leadership in constructing school accountability by offering examples of habits of mind and practice to humanize school education. This research also extends policy enactment studies by exploring accountability portrayed in daily leadership practices.