The educational leadership experiences of principals and their respective leadership teams in the implementation of a Josephite approach to education in six schools in the Josephite tradition
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Schools and Centres
The focus of this research was an exploration of the experiences of Principals and their respective leadership teams in implementing a Josephite approach to education in six schools in the Josephite tradition. In a liminal time characterised by a secularised, pluralistic and a de-traditionalising culture in society and Church (Gowdie, 2017; Green, 2018, Pollefeyt & Bouwens, 2010), Principals and key leaders in schools in the Josephite tradition are challenged to re-contextualise the Josephite tradition to best serve their school communities. It is therefore timely to undertake this research in order to inform the Sisters of St Joseph and relevant governing bodies of their role and responsibility in nurturing leadership in a Josephite approach to education. Furthermore, the study gives voice to the Principals and leadership team members in regard to their experiences.
The review of literature highlighted four themes which formed the conceptual framework in this research. The four themes are: The Josephite Heritage; Leadership in Catholic Education; Catholic Social Justice Principals; and Educational leadership. The interplay among these four themes directly influence the subject central to the research, that of educational leadership in the Josephite tradition.
The epistemological approach of this research was that of constructivism. An interpretive paradigm with a filter of symbolic interactionism was used to explore the experiences of Principals and their respective leadership teams in the implementation of a Josephite approach to education. The chosen methodology for the study was an instrumental case study design of six schools in the Josephite tradition. Methods of data collection included in-depth, semi-structured interviews of six Principals and their respective leadership teams in regional and metropolitan schools. Five of the schools were in South Australia and one school in Victoria. Additionally, a focus group of Sisters of St Joseph provided a reference to affirm, clarify or critique the data collected from each Principal and their respective leadership team. Miles, Huberman and Saldana’s (2014) interactive model of data management was used for data displays, management and analysis.
The research indicated that Principals and leadership team members viewed the founding story as a timeless source of inspiration which influenced their leadership behaviours in carrying out mission in the challenging landscape of society and the Catholic Church. Principals and leadership team members identified the unifying power of symbols, language and rituals when they were re-imagined in the local circumstances of the school community. Principals who integrated the Josephite spiritual tradition in their personal and professional stance demonstrated service to the community and therefore a non-hierarchical style of leadership. Furthermore, Principals and their leadership team members who committed to ongoing formation demonstrated integrity and the vitality of the Josephite tradition in their leadership practice.
The results indicated that Principals and leadership team members who effectively blended transactional, transformational and transcendental leadership processes nurtured an inclusive learning community marked by creativity, excellence and compassion, attributes critical to a Josephite approach to education. Finally, the research indicated that when Principals were able to integrate the Josephite spiritual tradition with their leadership practice, they demonstrated strong elements of transcendental leadership. The integration of the Josephite spiritual tradition in leadership enabled coherency of mission, vision and clarity in the creation of inclusive faith and learning communities.
Mead, C. (2019). The educational leadership experiences of principals and their respective leadership teams in the implementation of a Josephite approach to education in six schools in the Josephite tradition (Doctor of Education). University of Notre Dame Australia. https://researchonline.nd.edu.au/theses/244