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Career Questions: School Administration

Tingley-021 color Q:  I’m interested in becoming a principal.  How do I decide if that’s a good career path for me?

A:  First of all, you need to think about why you might be interested in administration.  There are lots of reasons teachers choose to make the move.  Some feel that they would like the challenge of working with curriculum, budget, personnel, discipline, etc.  Others feel that they would like to have a greater say in what happens in a school.  Still others think that they might be able to do a better job than some administrators they’ve met!

Whatever your reason, think also about whether administration is a good fit for you.  In most cases you will no longer have summers and school vacations off.  You will have evening assignments like concerts or sports events.  Your day will be longer than a teacher’s day, and you are never really “off duty.”  You will not see a big raise in your pay at the beginning; in fact, because you will work more hours you may actually make less per hour than you did as a teacher.  And one cautionary note:  If you don’t like teaching, you will not like Mug administration either because it has a strong teaching component.

I recommend two ways to determine if administration is right for you.  First of all, if you are comfortable doing so, tell your principal that you’re thinking about administration and ask if there is some leadership activity you could take on at school.  Secondly, check out the nearest college’s education administration program and talk to someone on staff about time and cost. 

For many years, one of the graduate courses I taught was the introductory course to school administration.  At the end of the course, some students were convinced that this was the career path they wanted; others decided that while it was interesting, they would prefer to remain in the classroom.

Good luck.  We need great teachers, but we also need great administrators!


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.