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Tips on how to make a successful transition from teaching to administration

By Nanette C. Basto, PhD

Advancing to an administrative position almost seems like the next logical step for an accomplished teacher. After years of successful teaching, it is expected that newly promoted school heads will perform their duties efficiently and effectively as new employees are excited and enthusiastic in performance of their duties.

School administration professionals such as principals and head teachers require strong leadership skills, a deep understanding of school structure, and creativity to meet challenges head on – all qualities also exemplified by teachers.

If you are considering revitalizing your education career, taking action is critical to get you moving forward.

Nonetheless, as you make the decision to advance in your career and move from a teaching job to an administrative job (such as teacher to head teacher or from teacher to school principal), you may discover that you are not equipped with all the, leadership skills required.

A school administrative job requires additional educational leadership skills that are not usually required in a teaching position. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a principal’s job is more like a manager’s job. Apart from teaching skills, you need strong management skills to oversee the day-to-day planning and running of a school.

Here are some tips on how to make a successful transitioning from teaching to administration:

1. Good Communication and Interpersonal Skills

As a school head, you need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills to communicate with students, parents, teachers, and other administrators on a daily basis.

Communication and interpersonal skills are key to a rewarding and successful career in a leadership position. During a regular day for a principal, it’s common to meet with and speak to a number of teachers, parents, and students about a variety of topics – something former teachers are already familiar with.

To be effective as an administrator, in each of these communications, you must be positive and motivating and never negative and unmotivating. To ensure you are communicating effectively, review how to discover your strengths and weaknesses to communicate positively.

2. Strong Educational Leadership Skills

You need to have strong leadership skills for an adminitrators’ job. You must be able to lead by example and guide teachers and students in the right direction when they face challenges. A trusted and respected leader will find it easier to facilitate complex changes such as asking staff to make improvements to curricula and procedures.

Moreover, he clearly communicates that he builds constructive positive relationships with diverse stakeholders: trustworthy, strong and lasting relationship, mutual respect and trust, established and maintained rapport, collaborating with others.

3. Effective Resource Management

One of the major challenges of an administrative job is to manage resources effectively. This will require a lot of planning and supervision. You must demonstrate that you have strong organizational skills and can develop and implement a plan as a school principal. These skills will be essential to managing resources such as staff, equipment, time, and many more to run the school efficiently. In addition, be prepared to manage the budget and supervise fundraising.

4. Involved in Process Management

The principal and head teacher lead in getting the school community involved in making any necessary school process improvements. This requires careful insight into existing processes, identifying areas for improvement, proposing ways to improve them, and implementing the changes.

5. Acquainted with Discipline Management

Demonstrate knowledge of classroom management methods and how to implement them into the classroom. Discipline is an important part of school management. As a school head, you need to ensure that discipline is maintained throughout the school.

This requires meeting with teachers on a regular basis and discussing methods to improve classroom discipline. Plus, you need to ensure that the methods discussed to improve discipline are actually followed and effective. You will be required to deal with parents and students when discipline issues become serious. As a result, you may have to attend attendance, suspension, or expulsion meetings.

6. Be Flexible

An administrator juggles many tasks at a time. Carry out these tasks requires planning, supervising, and management skills. You must have good computer skills using word processing, database software and email. Organizing, scheduling, and budgeting are other key skills you must effectively communicate in your educational leadership resume and cover letter to effectively transition from teaching to administration.

7. Efficient Time Management

As a school head, you are expected to manage time efficiently so that projects are completed on time and within budget. This requires careful planning, delegation of work, and supervising. Be prepared to work long hours; a typical day could last 10-12 hours.

8. Community Involvement

A commitment to community work as a teacher will demonstrate how you will support the surrounding community as a school administrator. You will find yourself participating in community activities on a regular basis. If possible, get the student body involved with community work; it builds character and helps the students obtain valuable work experience.

9. Earn an Advanced Degree

Through coursework focused on a range of topics including educational research and technology leadership, the MAEd and PhD programs offer graduates the chance to build on existing experience and ultimately benefit the schools and communities in which they serve.

These graduate degree programs equip future leaders with knowledge of educational theories and research methods to inform their planning and curriculum design. It also covers legal and ethical issues in educational leadership and management.

10. Find a Mentor

Prospective school administrators would also be wise to find a mentor who will act as an advisor and guide them in career planning. Reaching out to your immediate network for mentorship is a good place to start. A mentor in your network knows specifically what you are going through, and they know your colleagues. They are aware that helping someone in their network helps them as well.

11. Gain Leadership Experience

Good school administrators have usually had plenty of practical classroom experience, so if your ultimate goal is to lead the school or district, start acquiring the necessary leadership skills even as you perfect your classroom role. Serving on school committees and offering to orient and coach new teachers are two ways to hone your leadership skills outside the classroom.


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