Classroom teaching brings fresh challenges each year. But after a time, some teachers want to step out of the classroom and shoulder broader responsibilities.
Taking a job in administration is a common path for those who want to stay in education but extend their reach beyond one classroom.
“A lot of times, teachers decide they want more of a leadership role,” said Karen Samuelson, a career and life coach at Vocation Destination. “In any organization, there are people who want to manage more. They want to become leaders.”
It’s a career path where classroom experience is valued: “No one should ever be an administrator who has not been in the classroom,” Samuelson said. “Your classroom experience is vital because you know exactly what teachers are expected to do — you know the challenges and the joys of it.”
Still, moving into administration is not for everyone. How can you find out if an administrative job would be rewarding — and if so, how can you prepare?
Learn the possibilities
Samuelson said administrative jobs often filled by former teachers include assistant principal, principal, director of curriculum development and director of student services.
It’s worth finding out about the administrative positions in your district — or in other districts where you might want to work — and what experience they require.
Start close to home
Whether you need a formal supervisor for training or an informal mentor, a principal in your district may be willing to help. Your current district is also a good place to observe before embarking on a move to administration: What is it really like to be a school administrator, and would you enjoy doing it?
Go back to school
You’ll need to research the requirements for administrators in your area, but many times teachers need additional coursework to move into administration. Administrative positions are “usually accompanied by more credentials,” Samuelson said.
Often, Samuelson said, teachers who want to move into administration take evening classes while continuing to teach. At some point, they may also need to do administrative work under the supervision of a principal.
Take a test
Are you wondering whether you would make a good manager? You might take a career assessment — available online or through a career counselor — to see what it says about your aptitudes, Samuelson said.
Do your homework
“If you’re really interested in being an administrator, sit down and have an informational interview,” Samuelson said. Ask your principal or assistant principal how they prepared for their current jobs, where the job might lead (you can ask, for example, where they see themselves in five years), and what they enjoy and find challenging about the position.
You may want to do this more than once: You could find, for example, that while you’re very interested in curriculum, the disciplinary side of some administrators’ jobs is less appealing.
There may also be people in district jobs who don’t interact as directly with teachers, such as those who handle finances and facilities. These may be less common jobs for teachers to move into, but you may find them appealing once you learn about them.
“It’s about finding your niche,” Samuelson said.