Exploring School Principals’ Experiences During the First Four Months of the Pandemic as a Way to Reimagine Inclusive Education



school leadership, critical incidents, pandemic, special education needs


This study involved interviewing Canadian principals (N = 37) to determine how they responded to students with special education needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yamamoto et al.’s (2014) concept of critical incidents and Heine et al.’s (2006) meaning maintenance model were used to evaluate the transformational power of principals’ pandemic experiences in order to reimagine inclusive education. Findings revealed that these critical incidents broadly fell into four categories: 1) family support and the complications associated with partnering with parents virtually, 2) meeting students’ needs in new and often innovative ways, 3) disparities in student experiences as a result of virtual schooling and 4) responses required in light of logistical and technical challenges.

Author Biographies

Daniel John Anderson, University of Toronto

Daniel John Anderson (M.A., M.T.) is the associate director of the Vancouver Institute of Philosophy for Children. Daniel is a teacher and researcher who studies various topics in philosophy, psychology and education including game-based learning, moral motivation, and environmentalism. 

Jeffrey MacCormack, University of Lethbridge

Jeffrey MacCormack is Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology and Inclusion at the Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge, and a former teacher with ten years of K–12 teaching experience.

Steve Sider, Wilfrid Laurier University

Steve Sider is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, where his research focus is on school leadership and inclusive education.


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