Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Peggy Albers

Second Advisor

Dr. Tisha Lewis

Third Advisor

Dr. Teri Holbrook

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Vicki Denmark


In Images of Leadership (1991), Bolman and Deal identified four “frames” that school administrators use when making decisions: structural, symbolic, human resource and political. They discovered that the latter two frames, which focus on relationships, partnerships, and communication, were most frequently identified as predicting a school administrator’s success “as both leader and manager”(12). Strikingly, Bolman and Deal found that little emphasis and professional time are afforded to help school administrators learn about these critical frames. While there is ample logistical advice about language use, there is scant research that examines it from a theatrical perspective.

The purpose of this autoethnographic study was to examine my literate life as a school administrator through the use of multimodal interaction analysis (Norris, 2004) and dramaturgical metaphors (Goffman, 1959). The study attempted to address the following research questions: (1.) How does my role as a school administrator dramaturgically define the roles I inhabit as I engage in everyday literacy practices in school? and (2.) How do I use language –both verbal and nonverbal language --to negotiate those roles with my various audiences, specifically with teachers and staff, other leaders, students and parents?

The participant was myself –in my former role as an assistant principal at a suburban elementary school. Data collection and analysis began in May 2012 and concluded at the end of August 2012. Data for the study was collected through a journal based on questions using dramaturgical terms and a collection of the author’s/participant’s videotaped “performances” with various audiences. The dramaturgical journal was analyzed through Critical Discourse Analysis and deductive coding, while the videotapes were analyzed using Multimodal Interaction Analysis. Poetry was also used throughout the study to include the author’s voice, to recontextualize the experience, and to challenge the traditional prose form.

The study revealed the intersection of language and leadership in the life of a school administrator. It also showed how multimodal interaction analysis and dramaturgical metaphors can help educational leaders understand their own literate lives through new lenses and how they can grow from that understanding.