Crisis as opportunity: experiences of Norwegian school leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic

Crisis as opportunity: experiences of Norwegian school leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic


Mari-Ana Jones, Erlend Dehlin, Kristin Skoglund, Carl F. Dons




Norwegian schools received a few days’ notice in March 2020 before closing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The complexity of school life was suddenly compounded by a serious and unstable situation. Amid this was the implementation of the updated Norwegian national curriculum. This research explored how schools coped with this complexity through the gathering of school leaders’ perspectives. The views of school leaders were collected first through an anonymous survey. Following an initial analysis of the survey results, focus groups were conducted with school leaders. The data reveal diverse experiences. Whilst challenges were acknowledged, leaders reported strengthened staff collaboration, more insight into teaching and learning activities and a greater sense of community. As the crisis eased, some respondents reflected that teachers’ will to collaborate lessened, others reported that their schools continued to be enriched by the experience of the pandemic. Several leaders were keen to build on the positives, viewing the crisis as an opportunity to redesign and develop learning and leading. This research suggests that through an exploration of the experiences of school leaders during the pandemic, it is possible to understand the kinds of co-creative practices needed to continually build schools as learning communities in ‘ordinary’ times.


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school leadership, learning communities, school development, COVID-19, mixed methods


Published in Volume 28(3) Nordic values and schooling during COVID-19: how to balance comprehensive education and sustainable pandemic regulations,