The Essence of the Principal Internship: A Phenomenological Study
Bush, Shawnta Marie
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This paper presents a phenomenological investigation of principals' experience as they reflect on the essence of the administration internship, an integral part of school administration preparation programs. Five principals, all within the initial year or two of their first public school principal job, revealed the essence of their internship through a series of structured and unstructured interviews. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived meaning of the internship from the perspective of a newly seated principal. This study contributes to the qualitative principal preparation program literature. The essence of the principal internship emerged through several themes, as discussed by five newly seated principals, as the dynamic process of transformational learning experiences that challenge previously held beliefs about school leadership practices through the mentor-intern relationship, the influence of prior leadership experiences, surprising and emotionally-impactful events, and perceived quality internship activities. This essence is moderated by a lack of support from the ISLLC Standards framework, weak instructional leadership models, mundane and insignificant leadership tasks, and the ongoing need for school leadership program improvement.