SA Journal of Education, Vol 42, No 2 (2022)

Construction of self as a principal: Meanings gleaned from narratives of novice school principals

Sibonelo Blose, Bongani Nhlanhla Mkhize, Sihle Siyabonga Ngidi, Phumlani Erasmus Myende


It is assumed that individuals’ cognitions of who they are in a particular social structure influence their behaviour in that space. Likewise, school principals’ cognition of who they are in schools as social structures influences how they behave as leaders. In this article, we use the role identity theory as a framework to analyse novice principals’ narratives of lived experiences to understand how they construct themselves as principals in schools and how these constructions influence their execution of leadership. Positioned within the interpretivist paradigm, we adopted the narrative inquiry methodology to engage with the lived experiences of 3 purposively selected novice principals from the Pinetown district in KwaZulu-Natal. The narrative interview was employed to generate field texts, which were subsequently analysed using 2 methods: narrative analysis and analysis of narratives. From our analysis of field texts, 4 themes explaining how the participating novice principals construct themselves as school principals were identified; these themes are: a leader as a learner, re-establishing oneself as a leader, spanning boundaries, and leading to inspire. From these themes, we conclude that a principal’s conception of self is dynamic and is a blend of multiple meanings generated prior to becoming a principal and meanings generated during the principalship tenure.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Sibonelo Blose -
Bongani Nhlanhla Mkhize -
Sihle Siyabonga Ngidi –
Phumlani Erasmus Myende -

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