Page 83 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

Journal of K-12 Educational Research 81 decisions. Unique to the COVID-19 crisis, superintendents interacted with the Texas Education Agency as a professional network through regularly scheduled conference calls with the Commissioner of Education. Most reported the calls to be helpful initially but noted the distinction between promoted model practices and what was actually feasible to implement in small districts with limited resources. Figure 2 illustrates the themes and subthemes in the findings for SQ2. Superintendent Recommendations for Future Support Participants recommended that formal professional networks, particularly the statewide organizations, consider the limited resources of small, rural districts when rolling out supports. They recognized and appreciated the complexity of providing supports that had to be widely applicable to the greatest number of districts but felt most targeted an audience of superintendents in larger districts with more personnel for collaboration and delegation. Likewise, where communication was concerned, superintendents of small, rural districts recommended that larger formal networks be more intentional in reaching them directly. To better support districts of their size during a crisis, professional networks needed to employ more inclusive communication efforts to provide not only the most current and accurate information, but broad perspectives from others in similar districts. Implications The current study explored how superintendents in small, rural districts interacted with professional networks during the pandemic. The findings affirm previous research in which Fette (2018) found superintendents benefit from professional networks through fellowship and social support among peers, instruction or advice, and a reduced sense of isolation in the executive position when facing Figure 2 Themes and Sub-Themes in the Findings of Sub-Question 2 (SQ2) Figure 2 Themes and Sub-Themes in the Findings for Sub-Question 2 (SQ2) Superintendent Recommendations for Future Support Sub-Question 2 (SQ2) How Interactions with Professional Networks Changed Due to COVID-19 Basic Operations with Profound Consequences Remote Learning Child Nutrition Health Safety Other School Operations Increased Emphasis on Making Decisions Locally District Stakeholder Input Informal and Non-Education Professional Networks Increased Interaction with Formal Professional Networks Interaction with the Texas Education Agency as a Professional Network Interaction with Other Regional and State Professional Networks