Early Implementers of the Common Core: A Narrative Inquiry of Three California Principals

The purpose of this study was to examine how principals who were early implementers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) engaged in sensemaking (Weick, 2009) in order to facilitate the improvement of instructional practices needed to effectively implement the CCSS. The researcher investigated how principals who were early implementers made sense of the standards when determining their leadership decisions. In addition, the researcher sought to find out why principals made the leadership decisions they did when attempting to facilitate change in teacher practices to meet the demands of the CCSS. Using both the narrative analysis and the paradigmatic analysis of narratives methodologies (Polkinghorne, 1995), this study added insight into the journeys of three California principals who were early implementers of the CCSS. Data were collected through semistructured interviews conducted with each of the three principals. To strengthen the study, the researcher also reviewed her field notes and examined the artifacts provided by the participants. Through the narratives and the analysis of the narratives, common themes emerged. The stories and the accompanying analysis elucidated the importance of how the principals in the study took action at their sites, communicated with teachers, and forged collaborative partnerships with teachers in order to pave the way for full CCSS implementation.