Principal Leadership in a Virtual Environment

Patz Stephenson, Stefani
Hardy, Angela
Seylar, John
Wayman, Jeff
Peters, Vanessa
Bellin, Melissa
Roschelle, Jeremy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Digital Promise
The sudden and unexpected shift to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new awareness of the need for school leaders who can ensure that high-quality, equitable education can take place virtually as well as in the classroom. How can school districts develop a large corps of such principals? Research on the topic is still emerging, and this report offers early considerations for decision-makers based on an examination of research literature, interviews with 11 principals and administrators knowledgeable about virtual learning, and Digital Promise’s experiences in the field. The authors say high-quality, equitable learning in a virtual environment—“powerful learning”—is enacted through three essentials: meaningful use of technology, inclusive access to it, and the efforts of principals who know how to lead for meaningful use and inclusive access. The report also poses questions for district leaders to answer if they want to develop such principals. Among the questions: “What does a principal need to know and be able to do in order to effectively lead in a virtual context?” In addition, the report discusses how cultivating adeptness at leadership for high-quality, equitable virtual learning might be made part of effective principal pipelines. These pipelines, which research has shown can result in effective school leaders, are “comprehensive” because their seven parts cover the span of principal talent-development actions, and “aligned” because these components reinforce one another. The authors look at each of the pipeline parts, known as domains, and provide considerations for possible district action for each one.
leadership , school administration , principal pipeline , virtual environment