For classroom teachers, there are only a few ways to move up the career ladder. One such way is by transitioning into administration. By going back to school and earning a degree in education administration, teachers can make the switch to becoming assistant principals and eventually head principal of a school.
Some teachers see a move into administration as a way out of teaching. An job administrator is very different from a teacher’s position. Administrators don’t deal with students in the same capacity as classroom teachers. They aren’t responsible for creating lesson plans or ensuring that students learn content.
Administration is not a good fit for every teacher. Many teachers who are good at what they do would never consider moving into an administrative position. Oftentimes, its teachers who struggle in the classroom that want to move up to become administrators. But while teaching and administration are not the same, ineffective teachers tend to make ineffective administrators.
What Makes a Great Teacher?
Teaching is an art form, and it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes a great teacher. There are a few ways that we can measure the success of a teacher. One way is through test scores. Teachers whose students consistently perform well on standardized or state-mandated tests are typically considered to be effective teachers.
Great teachers also know how to connect with students and get them engaged in their learning. They form strong bonds with students and make them feel safe enough to take risks in the classroom. These connections also help great teachers manage student behavior in the classroom.
What Makes a Great Administrator?
All of these qualities are necessary in a good administrator, too. Administrators who don’t understand what it takes to be a great teacher cannot succeed as leaders of a school.
In most cases, administrators have two major responsibilities. They are tasked with ensuring that students in their school perform well academically. This typically means that they score high on tests. Administrators also must create a safe learning environment. That means handling discipline issues effectively.
These tasks aren’t so different from what teachers must do. Great administrators are those who excelled in the classroom, not the teachers who got into administration to get away from teaching.
Ineffective Teachers Become Ineffective Administrators
Great teachers, for the most part, make great administrators if they decide to make the career change. But what happens when an ineffective teacher goes into administration? Usually, they are an ineffective administrator.
Individuals who don’t understand what it takes to improve test scores or build strong relationships with students as a teacher can’t do those things as an administrator. An administrator’s job is to help their teachers achieve success. That means they have to understand how to do these things themselves. After all, if they don’t know how to teach well, they can’t help others become effective teachers.
Weeding Out Ineffective Teachers
So how can current administrators and district leaders weed out ineffective teachers when searching for new administrators? Improving the hiring process is key to finding effective teachers who will become effective administrators. When hiring administrators, it’s rare that potential candidates are asked about their test scores or student performance.
Instead, they are subjected to questions about their future in administration. It’s easy for candidates to talk about what they hope to do as an administrator or how they think they can be effective in an administrative role. Asking candidates to prove that they’ve been effective in the past is more difficult and can help weed out ineffective teachers who would become ineffective administrators.
Teachers are evaluated based on student performance. It makes sense to use the same tools when deciding whether a teacher is qualified for an administrator’s position. Looking at how a teacher has performed in the classroom will give a better idea of how they will perform as an administrator than any other measure.
Looking at data from several years, or even the entire course of a teacher’s career, allows employers to get a broad picture of a teacher. Have their test scores and other indicators of student performance improved over time? This shows a teacher who is still willing and able to grow as a professional, rather than someone looking to get out of teaching altogether. Do they show consistently good results? This shows a teacher who is truly great and understands how to get the best from their students.
Balancing Different Factors
Of course, test scores aren’t the only way to find effective teachers who will make great administrators. Teachers who have spent their career working in high-poverty schools with traditionally lower test scores may not have as much to show for it. Data should be compared against other teachers in a similar environment to get a true measure of a teacher’s performance.
Ultimately, there are many different factors that go into making a great teacher. One thing is certain--effective teachers are needed in administration, and ineffective teachers are not.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.