Career Advice: Leadership Roles and the School Board
Suzanne Tingley on taking on leadership positions and running for the local school board from Instructor Magazine.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Time for a Recharge?
Q | After teaching special ed for 23 years, I’m burned out. I have an educational specialist degree, and I’m certified as an educational administrator. What leadership positions can I apply for besides the principalship?
A | First let me ask you: Are you burned out or just bored?
If you still enjoy your students, but find it hard to generate enthusiasm for the daily routine, you’re most likely bored and looking for a new challenge. You may want to tell your supervisor you’re searching for a new way to contribute, perhaps at a different grade level or in a different role entirely, as a teacher leader or department chair. Your administrative certificate may qualify you for central office positions.
Keep in mind, however, that a move into administration could mean a new tenure area for you, and you could lose your seniority as a special education teacher.
If you are truly feeling burned out, it may be harder to find a leadership position that will rekindle your enthusiasm. Few leadership jobs are without stress, and many are year-round positions. And candidly, if you suspect that your feelings about teaching have influenced the quality of your work, your success in finding a leadership position may be compromised.
Have a heart-to-heart talk with an administrator you trust about steps you can take—from changing your classroom assignment to attending conferences to taking a sabbatical—to help you reinvigorate your professional life.
Q | I feel that teachers should have more say in what happens in classrooms, so I’m considering a run for the school board. What do I need to know?
A | It’s not unusual for a teacher to run for his or her local school board—after retirement.
The law prohibits board members from receiving money from the school district for goods or services, so you can’t run for the board in the district that employs you without resigning your teaching position. However, if you work in one school district and live in another, you can run for that district’s board of education.
Remember, though, that you would be only one member of the board, and decisions are made by majority vote, and that the board establishes policy but doesn’t tell administrators how to run the district on a day-to-day basis.
There are other ways your voice can be heard: on curriculum committees, discipline committees,
faculty advisory groups, and teachers’ associations. If you are not ready to retire, I recommend exploring other routes.
Question for Suzanne Tingley?
Suzanne Tingley is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and education professor. Her Practical Leadership blog can be found at scholastic.com/administrator.
Image: Aaron Clamage