A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
Principals’ Perceptions of Their Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2024)

Elomaa, M., Pakarinen, E., Eskelä-Haapanen, S., & Lerkkanen, M.-K. (2024). Principals’ Perceptions of Their Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic. In R. Ahtiainen, E. Hanhimäki, J. Leinonen, M. Risku, & A.-S. Smeds-Nylund (Eds.), Leadership in Educational Contexts in Finland : Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives (pp. 281-299). Springer. Educational Governance Research, 23. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-37604-7_14

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsElomaa, Mailis; Pakarinen, Eija; Eskelä-Haapanen, Sirpa; Lerkkanen, Marja-Kristiina

Parent publicationLeadership in Educational Contexts in Finland : Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

Parent publication editorsAhtiainen, Raisa; Hanhimäki, Eija; Leinonen, Jaana; Risku, Mika; Smeds-Nylund, Ann-Sofie



Journal or seriesEducational Governance Research



Publication year2024

Publication date07/10/2023

Number in series23

Pages range281-299

Number of pages in the book390


Place of PublicationCham

Publication countrySwitzerland

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/89616

Additional informationThe original version of the chapter has been revised. A correction to this chapter can be found at https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-37604-7_20.


The present study aimed to describe school principals’ perceptions of the changes and challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and what kinds of support and new competences they found important for managing their work. Fifty-five Finnish principals completed an online questionnaire that included open-ended questions. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data. The results showed that principals experienced changes mainly in their workload, in the nature of their work, and at an individual level, such as in family-work balance and increased motivation. Information and communication technology skills were mentioned most often as new skills needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though some principals argued that no new skills were needed. Principals highly valued support from the school community through discussions, flexibility, and teamwork, as well as clear instructions and guidelines from the upper-level administration. The results help in planning crisis leadership to ensure the continuity of high-quality education during exceptional circumstances. As other educational crises may follow the COVID-19 pandemic and crisis and change management are essential skills for principals, these skills should be taken into account when revising the pre- and in-service training curricula.

Keywordsleadership (properties)education and trainingheadmastersCOVID-19crisis management (leadership)

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Preliminary JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2023-13-12 at 09:46