Preschool staff perceptions of leader capabilities during COVID-19 early stage in Iceland
Abstract views: 695 / PDF downloads: 292
Keywords:COVID-19, Leadership, Preschool staff, Principal
In mid-March 2020, leaders of Icelandic preschools faced a new reality: the task of leading and keeping their preschools open during the early stages of a pandemic. Suddenly, everything changed, and dystopia became the “new normal”. The proximal closeness between unrelated people was forbidden, and everyone was supposed to practice social distancing. This article discusses the attitudes of preschool staff towards their leaders (principals) during that time. How successfully did the leaders handle the first weeks of the pandemic? Data were drawn from an online survey conducted between 8 and 18 April 2020 during a time when feelings were running high. The results showed that staff felt that most of the leaders supported and did their best to take care of their staff members. Leaders established new ways to communicate and get information from both staff and parents. They showed assertiveness and used their former leadership training and skills. However, staff perceived leaders had problems setting boundaries, and their insecurity affected their leadership skills. The unique contribution of this study is that its data were collected during the early stages, which may be helpful for later stages or other crises affecting preschools in the future.
Baran, B. E., & Adelman, M. (2015). Preparing for the unthinkable: Leadership development for organisational crisis. Industrial and Organisational Psychology, 3(1), 45–47. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1754-9434.2009.01196.x
Beauchamp, G., Hulme, M., Clarke, L., Hamilton, L., & Harvey, J. A. (2021). ‘People miss people’: A study of school leadership and management in the four nations of the United Kingdom in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 49(3), 375–392. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143220987841
Boin, A., Kuipers, S., & Overdijk, M. (2013). Leadership in times of crisis: A framework for assessment. International Review of Public Administration, 18(1), 79–91. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/12294659.2013.10805241
Bush, T. (2021). Leading through COVID-19: Managing a crisis. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 49(3), 373–374. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143221997267
Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. (2020). The ban on COVID-19 will take effect 16 March 2020. https://www.almannavarnir.is/frettir/samkomubann-vegna-covid-19-tekur-gildi-16-mars-2020/.
Drake, J. M. (2018). It's a dangerous world in there: Leadership methods and actions of school administrators during emergency situations and times of crisis [Unpublished Doctorate Thesis, Northern Illinois University]. https://commons.lib.niu.edu/handle/10843/21327.
Farazmand, A. (2007). Learning from the Katrina crisis: A global and international perspective with implications for future crisis management. Public Administration Review, 67(1), 149–159. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2007.00824.x
Government of Iceland. (2020a). Advertisement for restriction of meetings due to epidemics 243/2020. https://www.stjornarradid.is/library/04-Raduneytin/Heilbrigdisraduneytid/ymsar-skrar/Augl%C3%BDsing%20um%20samkomubann%2022.%20ma%C3%AD%202020.pdf.
Government of Iceland. (2020b). Advertisement for restriction of assembly ban due to epidemic 360/2020. https://www.stjornartidindi.is/Advert.aspx?RecordID=ab3485b5-a616-48bd-8db2-476a28fb45ce.
Grint, K. (2020). Leadership, management and command in the time of the coronavirus. Leadership, 16(3), 314–319. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715020922445
Hall, J. (2020, March 20). Focus on trust: Successful leadership in times of crisis. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2020/03/22/focus-on-trust-successful-leadership-in-times-of-crisis/#3b39018267b0.
Jenkins, S., & Goodman, M. (2015). “He's one of ours”: A case study of a campus response to crisis. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 23(4), 201–209. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-5973.12086
Johnson, T. (2018). Crisis leadership: How to lead in times of crisis, threat and uncertainty. Bloomsbury.
Jones, M., & Paterson, L. (1992). Preventing chaos in times of crisis. A guide for school administrators. Southwest Regional Laboratory. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED350700.pdf.
Logan, H., McFarland, L., Cumming, T., & Wong, S. (2021). Supporting educator well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study of leadership in early childhood education and care organisations. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 46(4), 309–321. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/18369391211040940
Longmuir, F. (2021). Leading in lockdown: Community, communication and compassion in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Educational Management Administration & Leadership. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/17411432211027634
Market and Media Research. (2019). Facebook still the most popular social media. https://mmr.is/frettir/birtar-nieurstoeeur/781-facebook-enn-vinsaelasti-samfelagsmidhillinn.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expended sourcebook. Sage.
Mutch, C. (2020). How might research on schools’ responses to earlier crisis help us in the COVID-19 recovery process? New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1(2), 69–71. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18296/set.0169
Nelson, J. (2019). Crisis management preparing school leadership to manage critical incidents: A qualitative case study. [Unpublished doctorate thesis]. University of Phoenix. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2212210951?accountid=49537.
Pálsson, S. Á. (2020). That’s how lockdown is done in some primary schools. https://www.visir.is/g/202020638d.
Robson. C. (2002). Real world research. A resource for social scientists and practitioner–researcher. Blackwell.
Schoenberg, A. (2005). Do crisis plans matter? A new perspective on leading during a crisis. Public Relations Quarterly, 50(1), 2–6.
Statistics Iceland. (2020). Personnel in pre-primary institutions by age, education and region 1998–2019. https://px.hagstofa.is/pxen/pxweb/en/Samfelag/Samfelag__skolamal__1_leikskolastig__1_lsStarfsfolk/SKO01301.px/?rxid=67762319-517b-4fdc-9622-eab941318ba2&fbclid=IwAR01Hb8PEv158543oo-vxBueBMw5w0jVeiFsJPmiTD5nhpDNZrp_2lQ3Taw
Thornton, K. (2021). Leading through COVID-19: New Zealand secondary principals describe their reality. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 49(3), 393–409. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143220985110
Tjøndal, A & Fylling, I. (2021). Digitaliske forskningsmetoder. Cappelen Damm Akademisk.
Visnjic-Jevtic, A., Varga Nagy, A., Ozturk, G., Şahin-Sak, İkbal T., Paz-Albo, J., Toran, M., & Sánchez-Pérez, N. (2021). Policies and practices of early childhood education and care during the COVID-19 pandemic: Perspectives from five countries. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 2(2), 200–216. DOI: https://doi.org/10.37291/2717638X.202122114
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Journal of Childhood, Education & Society
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Attribution: You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
NonCommercial: You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
NoDerivatives: If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
Author(s) must confirm that the Journal of Childhood, Education & Society retains all the copyrights unconditionally and indefinitely to publish articles.
Háskólinn á Akureyri
Grant numbers R-2102