Cultivating Critical Hope While Leading during Crisis: A Qualitative Cross-Comparative Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In this article, I examine the importance of cultivating critical hope while leading a school through a crisis. I analyze how the concept of critical hope functions when principals use it as a lever to lead toward crisis recovery. The analysis is informed by literature from the fields of education and positive psychology. Research Methods/Approach: For this qualitative study, I used a cross-comparative approach to uncover how principals operationalize critical hope to engender hope throughout their school buildings and maintain a sense of hopefulness to continue leading. To do so, I interviewed 50 principals from across the United States who have led through at least one crisis. Findings: I found that principals are constantly cultivating and engendering critical hope for their schools and for themselves. The findings also suggest that critical hope is essential to a principal leading through a crisis. Implications: This research contributes to our understanding of the relationship between critical hope, crisis, and educational leadership. It also extends research on leadership competencies and dispositions toward effective school leadership postcrisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-300
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Journal of Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


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