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School Administration
Occasionally a teacher becomes a curriculum director by default, but in today’s world most of the administrative jobs demand a master’s or doctorate in specific areas. Many curriculum directors, principals, and assistant principals have previously taught in a school system. However, larger school districts will hire principals from outside, and most school districts hire superintendents from outside.

To ensure that you are a good fit for the school system and the job:
  1. Be active outside the school district where you presently are. Become involved within your state and in at least one national professional and community organization. Get to know other people who work the same job you want.
  2. Start cultivating a personal professional network.

    • Attend local professional meetings regularly.
    • Volunteer to serve as a representative on local boards such as a special education cooperative.
    • Seek out community service boards and participate.
    • Initiate contacts with other administrators in your area (or the area to which you’d like to move). Call and talk about issues or ask for advice.
    • Look for opportunities to be a social network leader by scheduling an informal breakfast or lunch get-together. Perhaps a golf outing or day at the spa or trip to a sporting event with others doing the same job will help you make connections.

  3. Read as much as you can and attend webinars or watch the webcasts. Below is a starting point with webcasts from KDP and a few book recommendations. However, many more options are available, so ask your colleagues for recommendations and then discuss the webinar or book with those colleagues.
  4. Utilize all sources of information. The Internet will provide information about school districts of interest. Use Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn to look up individuals and find pages on specific schools and school districts.

    Visit Education Week’s Career Corner blog frequently or sign up to be notified when something new is posted.

    One of the best places to look for jobs is Education Week’s Top School Jobs.

    For administrative positions, sign up for job search engines and use AAEE, Education Jobs, School Spring, and Teachers–Teachers. Other places to look include Education Week, USREAP, and GlassDoor.

    Learn more from these webinars:

    The Effective Principal Today: Can This Be You?
    Public education has changed more in the last 5–10 years than in the previous 50, and a new kind of leadership is needed. If you are a principal, can you adapt to the changing times? Do you have the personal qualities necessary for leadership?

    The Many Hats of the Principal
    Former principal Robert Berman, who received New York’s Distinguished Service Award, discusses characteristics of successful principals, as well as management strategies to help balance all the hats administrators wear. Recommended for principals and assistant principals with fewer than 5 years of experience, as well as prospective administrators.

    8 Strategies for Success in Your First Year as a Principal
    While you can never be fully prepared to step into your first administrative position, you can minimize your learning curve if you understand what beginning administrators need to know and what skills they need to succeed in their first year. From a presenter who served 28 years in public school administration, learn how to connect with students and parents, develop staff relations, avoid surprises, and much more.

    Becoming a Female Superintendent: Advantages, Challenges, and Pathways
    Learn from two women who have been superintendents. Discover how to enhance your climb, find employment, get into mentoring programs, and increase your networking opportunities. Learn the advantages you have as a female and get strategies for turning the barriers into gateways.

    Suggested Reading
    Moving into the Superintendency: How to Succeed in Making the Transition by Thomas A. Kersten (Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2012) Kersten shares the most practical and useful strategies that will help new superintendents optimize their early successes and shorten the office’s initial learning curve, thus guaranteeing a smooth transition into this role, and setting a foundation of professional skills upon which superintendents will build their careers.

    Principals as Maverick Leaders: Rethinking Democratic Schools by Sharron Goldman Walker and Michael Chirichello (Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011) This book presents a guide for principals in the form of rules that suggest that educational leaders must ask themselves why they do what they do. It also takes readers through a series of vignettes focused on how principals can practice democracy in the schoolhouse, while challenging themselves and their school community.

    Stepping into Administration: How to Succeed in Making the Move by Thomas A. Kersten (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2010) To help new administrators optimize their first-year success, a highly experienced school administrator shares a plethora of practical and useful strategies that can guide them from the moment they accept the job offer through the end of the first year.

    Success in the Superintendency: Tips and Advice
    by Kay T. Worner (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2010) The tips, and scenarios for each chapter are inspired by 36 Superintendents of the Year representing various states. The book is ideal for graduate school students, beginning superintendents, and superintendents who seek some advice from those who are recognized by their peers as excellent leaders.

    The First-Year Experiences of Successful Superintendents by Kerry L. Roberts, Sid T. Womack, and Shellie L. Hanna (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012) These qualitative case studies give the prospective superintendent a real-life look at life on the other side of the district CEO’s desk. Two dozen superintendents reflect upon their first challenges and growth opportunities that arose during that all-important first year.