Autoethnography, Narrative Analysis, and a Principal's Reflection on Moral Purpose



University of Illinois
James Lane
Presentation Date: 
Friday, May 19, 2017
Event or Conference: 
The 13th International Congess of Qualitative Inquiry
Presentation Type: 
Paper Presentation
Boyer's Domain: 
Presentation Location: 
United States
In this autoethnographic narrative inquiry I describe a turbulent ethical dilemma I experienced as a middle school principal. I reflect on self-authored texts to discover patterns and epiphanies in my development as a morally directed school leader. I recount the relationship of Tom and Rita, teachers of emotionally disturbed students, an especially vulnerable group. The teachers'evocative morass included sexual trysts, physical and emotional abuse, prescription drug addiction, and alcoholism. I view my actions through Starratt’s ethical frameworks of care, critique and justice to reach insights into myself as both individual and professional. I re-create events through a descriptive vignette, capturing personal and social implications of my experiences using Clandinin and Connelly’s model of three-dimensional narrative space. Insights include a more compassionate and socially just approach to the principalship. I show autoethnography and narrative analysis as vibrant tools to train school leaders in self-reflection and invoke social justice reform.