So You Want To Be A School Administrator?
There comes a time in a classroom teachers career, when the idea of school administration may become stronger than a passing thought. The idea of moving into another area of responsibility is aluring and may be the best fit for some, as it will provide new opportunities and challenges.
This article is for the classroom teacher who is seriously contemplating school administration. Follow these few tips and you will have the needed foundation to move forward successfully.
Unlike many administrative positions such as coordinators, instructional coaches and other support staff who may be focused on broader issues and concerns, the school principal and assistant principal are specifically focused on the progress of the school; every facet of the school to include student achievement, parental involvement and the professional development of every teacher.
Trust me there is no time to sit around watching the security monitors in the office, the job of a principal is intense both emotionally and sometimes physically.
With all of this in mind here are seven tips to help you get to where you want to be:
1. Stay on top of your Game – “Competence”: One must show competence in the classroom before moving into an administrative position. You must be able to demonstrate that your classroom management, instruction, and student achievement results are solid. If asked, most principals will tell you that they will not recommend you for a leadership position or certification if you haven’t shown competence in the classroom. Bottom line – have you produced solid student achievement data?
I would also add that it is critical for you to follow through with your additional school duties. Your ability to complete these tasks successfully will enhance your professional image and solidify your competence in the eyes of your principal.
2. Maintain a Positive Outlook on Life – “Attitude”: Have you shown yourself to be a positive individual? It is an awesome feeling as a principal to work with teachers who are generally positive, upbeat and excited about their career. Believe me, if you are reading this article you are more than aware of co-workers who always see the glass half empty. Leaders can not afford to dwell on the negative. Leaders must find ways to see the positive and the possible. Have you shown these characteristics as a classroom teacher?
3. Make Friends Everywhere – “Relational”: People enjoy being around those they can talk too. I have worked with leaders who have the relational skills of a tree, and I have worked with those who are brilliant with relationships. Relationships and networking matter. Healthy relational skills will enable you to find ways to think of the welfare of others consistently. Don’t use relationships for your own benefit, find ways to help others get to where they want to be.
4. Don’t sit around, do something – “School Involvement”: Are you active in school extra curricular activities? Showing up to events, and even participating will show that you have a desire to support the school, students and staff. It doesn’t mean that you need to be involved in everything. Find a couple of programs or activities that you can support, and your investment will go a long way. If you can’t find an existing program to support, create one for students or teachers. Trust me, there is something you have to offer that can benefit others.
5. Volunteer as an Intern – “Administrative Experience”: If you feel confident that you have maintained a healthy relationship with your peers and administration, ask the principal or assistant principal if you can help out with some leadership responsibilities. This could include student discipline, PTSA activities, instruction, transportation, or maintenance. Where ever your administration allows you to participate, do it with passion. The best way to do this is to ask if you can intern for a semester or two. Document your activities and ensure you are able to get a letter of support in the end from your administrator(s).
6. Maintain your Physical Image – “Appearance”: Please, please, please dress for success everyday. Stand out from the crowd, and ensure that your dress attire is professional and suitable for your everyday experiences at your school. Wear an apron or lab coat if you must, but look the part. Trust me you are being judged by your appearance.
7. Seek out a coach – “Mentoring”: This one tip will enable you to overcome many challenges along the way. The road to administration can be a slippery slope if you do it alone. Find someone you trust, and who has a good reputation that will mentor you. Believe me you will need the help, and you will benefit from the relationship.
These few tips are far from exhaustive, but to use them will give you an edge on the thousands who are seeking the very same position as you. Administration positions are competitive, get all the support you can. To have a real chance at an administrative career, you need to be a cut above the rest.
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