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Pennsylvania Principals’ Describe their Work, Examined through the Theory of Transformational Leadership

Shannon E O'Donnell, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Teachers discover that their love of children draws them to teaching, or that their own love of learning makes them passionate about teaching. Both my love for children and my own love of learning are two key factors that originally persuaded me to become an educator and researcher.Being raised in a district composed of rural and suburban communities and later spending years as an educator in urban and suburban school districts, I was able to define one key factor: successful students had one or more significant adult who provided them with meaningful guidance and support. For many, a classroom teacher and the experiences, mentorship, and compassion they provided happen to be that significant factor that changed the lives. I observed that as a classroom teacher, individuals are only responsible for designing instruction and activities, and regularly interacting with 20-30 students on a consistent basis. I felt that as an administrator, however, I would have the capability to impact instructional outcomes and general school experiences for a much greater set of students.Despite countless responsibilities, administrators have more flexibility in their schedule; providing the occasion to visit multiple classrooms and interact with more students in the halls and cafeteria, and beyond the school building which enhances the opportunity to foster relationships with many students, over many years. Due to these circumstances, motivated and distinguished administrators have a significant impact over the entire educational system.Through Transformational Leadership, the goal for any educational leader should be to improve systems that promote academic and social-emotional growth, systems for helping teachers grow professionally, and systems for dealing with the countless problems that inevitably arise in a school building. In doing so, administrators can encourage a multitude of educators to do what is most important; provide all students with the guidance, support, knowledge, compassion, and the most effective educational system possible.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational administration|Education

Recommended Citation

O'Donnell, Shannon E, "Pennsylvania Principals’ Describe their Work, Examined through the Theory of Transformational Leadership" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28491238.