U of R Joint Study

As you are undoubtedly aware, Canadian education systems are currently planning to re-open schools after long-term closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we watch early school openings around the world, it is clear, however, that it is not simply a return to schooling as we know it. Consequently, there is a need to reconsider how we understand effective leadership in the coming months and years and how best to support principals as they manoeuvre within these new understandings.

With the aim of better understanding your evolving needs and the supports you require going forward in the COVID-19 era, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is partnering with lead researcher Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson to explore the experiences of Saskatchewan school-based administrators as the other first responders of the pandemic. 

As a school-based administrator, your experiences will provide valuable insights into these questions and aid the STF in better serving its members. If you choose to participate in this study, you would be committing to:

  1. Participating in one or more recorded online focus groups throughout the 2020-21 school year.
  2. Completing a short online feedback form after each focus group to provide additional commentary on the main themes that emerged from the conversations.

If you are interested in joining the upcoming focus group at 4:00 p.m. on November 30, please register with the University of Regina.

The study is guided by the following research question and sub-questions:

What can be learned from the experiences of Saskatchewan school leaders as they navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. What challenges are school leaders facing and how do those challenges continue to evolve over the course of the pandemic?
  2. What kinds of professional learning experiences do school leaders identify as being necessary to effectively lead during COVID-19 times?
  3. How can their professional organizations support school leaders in managing the complexities of leading schools during a pandemic?

Focus groups will be hosted and video recorded using Zoom and will be held throughout the 2020-21 school year. To ensure the safety of participants, several security protocols will be employed including: requiring pre-registration to ensure the privacy of the meeting link, the creation of a new meeting link for each session, limiting the screen share functionality to host only, and ensuring that hosts are trained in muting, disabling the video and removing unruly participants (Zoom bombers). Also note that, for this study, online focus groups will be recorded, encrypted and saved on the researcher’s password-protected computer. Data from Zoom will not be stored on any external servers, and personal information of participants (such as email addresses) is not shared by Zoom for any purpose and is not sold to third parties for any reason. This is outlined in detail on Zoom's privacy policy (https://zoom.us/privacy).

Participants do not have to participate in all focus groups but can choose to join any of the sessions that are of interest. Focus groups will be 90 minutes in length and can accommodate up to 20 participants. The first session will explore challenges and successes in relation to initial experiences with school re-opening. Data collected in this focus group will help inform subsequent sub-topics; however, given the evolving nature of schooling within the context of a pandemic, focus group topics may also emerge in relation to broader educational issues as they unfold.

Please note that participation in the study is completely voluntary and you should in no way feel obligated to participate. There is no direct compensation for participation in this study; however, participants may find the study beneficial in terms of the opportunity it provides for reflection on practice and the value of the supportive conversations it provides. Should you choose to participate, informed consent will be obtained electronically as part of the focus group registration process.

If you choose to participate in this study, you are reminded that, due to the nature of focus groups, complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in this study. In other words, while pseudonyms will be used in all publications or presentations that might result from this study, fellow focus group participants will be privy to the experiences and perspectives you are sharing. We remind all participants to be mindful of the professional ethics established by the STF in creating a judgment-free space. We ask that participants hold themselves accountable to maintaining the confidentiality of the information shared by other participants within the context of the focus groups and the study.

Participants in the study are also free to withdraw from data collection at any time by ceasing to participate in any further focus groups. There is no penalty for withdrawing and doing so will not impact your standing with either the STF or the University of Regina. Given the nature of focus groups, however, data that has already been collected through recorded sessions cannot be withdrawn.

At the end of the project, the results of this study may later be published in academic journals and books or presented at educational conferences. In all publications, pseudonyms will be used, and participants will remain anonymous.

The study has been approved by the U of R Research Ethics Board. Any questions regarding your rights as a participant may be addressed to the committee at research.ethics@uregina.ca

Thank you for taking the time to review our invitation.