Q: I’ve been thinking more and more about becoming a principal. Though I know parts of the job can be rough, I like the idea of shaping a school. How do I decide if that’s a good career path for me?
Suzanne: Start by thinking carefully about what attracts you to administration. There are lots of reasons teachers choose to make the move. Some feel they would like the challenge of working with curriculum, budget, and personnel. Others feel they want to have a greater say in what happens in a school. Still others think they might be able to do a better job than some administrators they’ve met! A word of warning, however, if you’re looking to escape teaching — administration has a strong teaching component.
Also consider whether administration is a good fit for you. In most cases, you will no longer have summers and school vacations off. You will have more evening duties like concerts, sports events, and meetings. You will find you are never really “off duty.” And you may not even see a big raise in your pay at first; in fact, because you will work more hours, you may actually make less per hour than you did as a teacher.
Next steps: If you are comfortable doing so, tell your principal you’re thinking about administration and ask if you could take on some leadership activity at school. Check out your local college’s education administration program and find out what the time and cost commitments are.
For many years, one of the graduate classes I taught was an introductory course in school administration. At the end of each term, some students were convinced this was the career path they wanted; others decided that, while it was interesting, they would prefer to remain in the classroom.
Good luck. We always need great teachers, but we also need great administrators!