Updated: Nov 28, 2022
After years of successful teaching in the classroom, inspiring many young people to become responsible citizens, and completing (and surviving!) other daunting tasks assigned to you, you are now considering moving from a teaching position to an administrative position.
Good for you! Teaching is indeed a noble profession, and while you work in a classroom full of students, you may feel that you can only say or do a fraction of what you would like to do as a passionate educator.
When you become an administrator, you'll have a free hand in setting policies (at least within the school!), developing faculty and staff, solving student problems, managing the day-to-day operations of the entire school building, and implementing the system you have always dreamed of to lead the school to ultimate success!
Of course, there is much more you can do by working with teachers, students, parents, and district administration to inspire young, open-minded students to be creative and innovative, to think critically, and to have fun while learning, paving the way for a promising future for the school and the entire community.
Before you set out to prepare your resume and search the school district's website for open administrative positions, here are some of the best ways you can prepare for a promotion to an administrative position.
Communication is key.
Before pursuing an administrative position, improve your communication skills. Demonstrate that you are a confident, knowledgeable, and passionate potential administrator to ultimately be selected as a principal.
Prove yourself as a problem solver by clearly expressing your opinion instead of constantly complaining about every little problem in the school or district.
Helping your current school administrators solve problems is a perfect opportunity to gain their trust and put yourself in the running for your future administrative job applications.
Maintain your integrity and professionalism and be a natural at resolving issues and complicated problems.
Use your teaching experience.
As a teacher, you may be fortunate to work with a caring and respected administrator, whether it's the principal, assistant principal or superintendent.
You need to be aware of the challenges of the job and what qualities it takes to be a better administrator.
As a teacher, you may have already acquired leadership skills that are the basic requirement for an administrative position. Make sure you hone your leadership skills such as empathy, decision making, coaching, and growth mindset.
You can leverage your experience as a teacher by developing these qualities to be better suited for an administrative position.
It makes perfect sense for school administrators to have experience in the teaching profession, as they can then better understand what is going on in the minds of teachers and students and shape policy accordingly.
If a school administrator has no experience as a teacher, that would be the same as hiring a soccer coach who has no experience playing soccer. Here is the caveat: Most administrators are accused of forgetting their past as teachers and not being able to relate to what teachers go through on a daily basis. So do not be that kind of administrator and never forget what teaching was all about.
Develop conflict management skills.
Conflict is inevitable because of the dynamic work environment. Staff and students who belong to different cultures, races, ethnicities, and age groups will inevitably disagree on countless issues every day.
As an administrator, you must acquire skills in managing conflict because this will determine whether you remain in administration for a long time or whether circumstances force you to return to the classroom.
As a teacher, you have probably already acquired this skill to some degree by resolving conflicts between your students on a daily basis. Now you need to dig deeper and prepare to take action to neutralize the conflict before it escalates. You can work on stress management and problem-solving techniques to defuse an emerging conflict.
Show fairness and consistency in your decisions.
To move up in management, you need to practice making the right decisions.
We all make decisions every day, such as "what I wear," "what I eat," etc., but the consequences are limited only to your being.
When you make decisions as a steward, it affects all the people who depend on you. Sometimes you will have to make tough decisions that will not be welcomed, but you must stand by them and never buckle under pressure. Show fairness and consistency when deciding the fate of others, and it will earn you respect.
You cannot improve your decision-making skills overnight. It requires patience, time and experience.
Before making decisions, you should always weigh the consequences and analyze the situation of those involved, i.e., gather all data/information and also do not hesitate to consult with other administrators, teachers or staff.
You should acquire the ability to actively listen to all points of view and anticipate circumstances in order to make quick decisions.
Learn to build meaningful relationships.
The key to building strong relationships is to show empathy toward students, teachers and parents.
According to an article published in Sciencedirect, teachers' performance is often judged by how many years they have been in the profession. Previous work as a teacher can help you build meaningful relationships with others.
The stress administrators face in an educational setting is high, and managing teachers, students and parents simultaneously seems like a daunting task. An administrator's interpersonal skills can work wonders, turning a stressful situation into an opportunity for growth and development. And most importantly, do not stop smiling!
Remember that you will be the person everyone will look up to and ask for advice in stressful situations. Make sure you leave a positive impression by building lasting relationships with everyone around you, especially your fellow teachers, in order to be successful.
Keep yourself informed.
There are always new techniques, strategies, and leadership styles. You need to evolve as an administrator and also conduct training programs for your teachers to cope with these changing trends.
Usually, staff members resist change, but you need to incorporate new ideas into their teaching methods and motivate them to adapt to new technologies and strategies.
At the end of the day, the quality of teaching at your school is the most important thing. Make sure you give it the highest priority. Always hire the best teachers, train the rest, and say goodbye to the worst (get advice from HR beforehand!).
Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?"
The job of an administrator is indeed exhausting, and there will come a time when you feel drained and may want to give up.
In this case, ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" because you will certainly feel a sense of accomplishment as you make a difference in the lives of your teachers and students through your effective actions and insights.
The education system needs motivated and dedicated administrators like you who are not only committed to the productivity of the institution, but also focus their energy on the well-being of their students, making them better people and opening up opportunities they never thought possible.