Once in a while, someone will ask me if I ever plan to move into administration. After more than ten years of teaching, it does seem like a logical question and the logical next step.
So while I am a big believer in “never say never”, I know for sure that I will never be a school administrator. Simply put, I would be terrible at it and being terrible at my job would make me unhappy. I do not possess the qualities that a good administrator needs.
I’m not looking for anyone, in either the real world or virtual world, to tell me not to be so hasty, not to underestimate myself. Actually, I think I should be applauded for my honest self-assessment and level of self-awareness. Wouldn’t the school system be a better place if everyone was as reflective as I, and chose to really question themselves before plunging headlong into something with such huge potential for disaster, both personal and professional?
It bothers me that anyone can become an assistant principal or principal. All one needs to do is take the appropriate classes. You don’t even have to have a teaching background anymore. In the corporate world, aren’t people promoted into leadership positions based on performance? While I often bemoan the application of business principles to the education of children, this is one practice that the city really should embrace. There are plenty of people out there with AP licenses who should just not attempt the position because they have serious flaws as teachers. There are plenty of people who pursued the credential because they wanted to get away from children. There are people who’ve worked their way into quasi-administrative positions, often as a “stepping stone” and don’t even try to fulfill the requirements of that position.
Why is it so easy for people to earn these credentials and move into these positions? Being an assistant principal or principal should be a prestigious thing, and maybe outsiders view it as such, but those of us on the inside know that we could do it too, if we wanted. Obviously, a shortage exists. But programs that churn out insta-principals (instapals?) are not a solution. I don’t have a solution myself, but
My advice to anyone who’s thinking about administration is simple: don’t just ask yourself if you’d enjoy the position. Ask yourself if you’d be good at it. Ask yourself about your real motivation and how you will use that to inspire your staff. Ask yourself if you have honest, well-developed people skills. Ask yourself if you know how to walk in the shoes of the teachers. I have encountered some poor administrators during my career, and in my opinion, the worst ones are those who forget what it’s like to be around kids so much, to scramble and scrape for materials and resources, to deal with the fact that a class and the work it does is always a work in progress and never really a finished product. They forget that we have a lot to do, and if we’re asked to do even more, we want to know how it will help and what kind of support we’re going to get.
I appreciate that I have a career that allows me to earn a living while giving me time to pursue my personal interests and have time with my family. I think I’ve learned that I am only as good as the leadership above me, and maybe I need to become better at working well without strong guidance. I don’t know if such a thing is possible.