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Preparing for the Transition to Administration


When sitting on the sidelines, it is easy to second guess the coach’s play calling. But, when you’re put into the position of making the calls yourself, you quickly find out it’s not as simple as it looks. The same is true when you become an administrator, decisions that looked like “no brainers”, are not so clear cut when you’re the one that has to make the call. So, how do you know if becoming the “coach” is the best career move for you?

Here are some ways you can find out if moving into administration is the right move for you.

Talk with some “coaches”. Seek out administrators that will give you an honest assessment of what it’s like to be an administrator.
• Chose administrators with varied levels of experience and different strengths.
• Ask if you can shadow to see firsthand what a “day in the life” is like.
• Develop a list of questions to be asked of each of them so you can get different perspectives on the same issue/topic.
• How did they deal with the transition from day-to-day interaction with students to sometimes limited contact with them?
Think outside the box.
• Not all teachers have to follow the traditional path to administration (i.e., assistant principal, principal, etc.).
• Find out what administrative positions exist on the non-instructional side of the house (i.e., business services, transportation, facilities, etc.).
Properly prepare yourself.• Do you hold (or are you eligible for) the proper certificate/license? If not, find out what course work, etc. you need and set a realistic timeframe in which to complete it.
• Do you have the experiences and background necessary to be affective?
• Do you have the personal support system needed to make a career shift?
Weigh the Pros v. Cons
• Is this the right time in your life to make a career move?
• More money vs. increased time commitment.
• Limited interaction with students vs. more interaction with public

Although making the transition from player to coach can be challenging, these simple steps will help you in developing a game plan that’s right for you.

Pamela Murphy
Sr. Manager of Human Resources
Harford County Public Schools
Bel Air, Maryland


First, I would like to say "thanks" for the enlightening information.

What advice would you give an industry professional with a background in business that is interested in seeking a school Administrative position.

Thanks again

I've never criticized an administrator because I thought their job was easy, although many teachers do. My chief complaint is that they quickly forget what it's like to be a teacher. I've seen many former teachers make administrative decisions that make their own life easier, but take away rights or privileges of those they supervise.

There are many careers/jobs in educational administration where a business background makes perfect sense. People do not know or often forget that there is a whole support side of a school district that mirrors the support funtion of a business such as Finance or Human Resources. A transfer into these positions can be relatively easy. What is not so easy, but not impossible is moving directly into a building administrative position, such as a principal or assistant principal. Their positions require a strong instructional leadership component which is difficult to exercise without having been in a school environment. Here in Colorado, the state has an Alternative Principal License Program that allows qualified individuals to earn their license while they are in a school leadership position. This program is not for everybody, but it works for certain circumstances and individuals. You may want to look into similar programs in your state.

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