NAFOL profile: Kristin Belt Skutlaberg

“Holding out”- School leadership in challenging relational situations

Kristin Belt Skutlaberg. Photo.I have work experience as both a teacher and a principal, and I have a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. The title of the master’s thesis was: ‘How principals prevent and handle conflicts in school’. I have worked at NLA University College since 2011, and teach the master’s programme in Educational Leadership, and parts of the National Principal Leadership programme. Through this work and in meetings with leader groups in schools, I am in contact with many principals. The principals often report that the most demanding challenges in their work are the long-term relational challenges and conflicts with parents or the school owner (authority). Here my interest was awakened as to how this situation effects the principals and their decision-making. Where do they get the strength and determination to deal with these demanding processes? What qualities does a principal need for dealing with such situations? This was the starting point for the theme of my PhD work. In a time of increased focus on legislation, procedures, rules and routines, it is also necessary to investigate what types of experiences principals have in challenging situations and what kinds of strategies they have found helpful. In my PhD study, the aim is to develop theory which can be used in leader groups in schools.