Emotional Experiences of Principals During Organizational Changes: An International Comparative Perspective

Emotional Experiences of Principals During Organizational Changes: An International Comparative Perspective: UCEA Convention – 2017

Draft: Understanding emotions and their role in educational leadership and change has been neglected in theory and practice, internationally and in the Arab region. Nonetheless, leadership and change are emotionally intense experiences, thus, understanding emotions and supporting leaders of change to regulate these emotions enable effective leadership and school improvement. This study illuminates the emotions experienced by school improvement members during the change and examines how they experience and emotionally respond to change in an adverse context, unpacking the strategies used to cope with their emotions in order to sustain their commitment and motivation to improve their schools. The study also reveals the conditions that support this regulation. Using case study research, the data was generated from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with seven members of a lead team in one of the schools participating in the TAMAM project. The results suggest that change induces a range of negative and positive emotions, and that these emotions impact how practitioners experience change. Imposed and top-down changes generated anxiety, self-doubt and fear, leading to the alienation of the teachers and the poor implementation of these changes. However, school-based and grass roots initiatives generated feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, safety and confusion that soon dissipated, as a result of the support and positive approach of the TAMAM coaches. This led to feeling of empowerment and transformation of the team’s practices and beliefs. The transformational school leadership also enabled learning and risk taking, providing better conditions for the improvement to take place. The study concludes that effective educational change caters for the affective dimension of change through purposefully planned supportive conditions and supportive school leadership.