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Taking Leadership: Practical Steps for Aspiring Administrators

By Matthew Johnson
Taking Leadership: Practical Steps for Aspiring Administrators

Every day in the classroom there are exceptional teachers on the ground level making a positive difference in the lives of students. They are creating lesson plans, grading papers, finding the latest educational apps, and doing everything possible to tap into the creativity and individuality of each student.
Some of these same teachers have the desire to move into administrative roles, but are unaware of the steps they need to take in order to make those dreams a reality. Whether you are a classroom teacher, an instructional coach, a grade-level coordinator, or a teacher leader, there are very practical steps that you can take to move forward and enhance your role and position in today’s schools.
Schools around the world need dedicated and talented educators that are willing and able to step into administrative roles and take leadership. If you have the capacity to lead change and support a positive school culture, then now is the time to begin your journey of becoming an inspirational and effective school administrator.
Step 1: Tell others about your desires and ambitions. Specifically, let current administrators know that you would like to move into a leadership role. Hopefully, either a current or past administrator will serve as a mentor as you make your way through the process. A mentor should be able to give you guidance as well as start providing opportunities for you to take on leadership roles and responsibilities within your current school. Your colleagues, along with other educators, will be there to support and encourage you along the way if they know of your future goals and desires.
Step 2: Get involved and build your portfolio. Broaden your experiences and strengths by serving on different committees, teams, and initiatives within your school community. Obtain an advanced degree in educational leadership in order to stay current with best practices and network with like-minded professionals worldwide. Build greater respect and leadership within your school community by starting new programs or initiatives and making valuable, practical changes. Deliver professional development sessions to your colleagues so they can begin seeing you as a confident and knowledgeable leader.
Step 3: Articulate your own personal philosophy of education as an administrator. Begin this step by making a list of those educational beliefs that are non-negotiable. Examples might include: improving student learning and teacher instruction, building a collaborative school culture, and establishing positive relationships. Once you determine those values that guide your daily practice, craft your philosophy of administration to match your character and personality. Most importantly, remember that all of your conversations as an educator should be grounded in and come back to your core beliefs and vision.
Step 4: Build positive relationships. Building and maintaining positive relationships with all school stakeholders will guide your reputation and set you apart from other administrators. The respect that you garner from others will allow you the possibility to make significant change within the school community and to be a positive example for all to follow. This is not always easy, as mistakes will be made, opinions will be varied, and confrontations will be unavoidable. However, stay true to your beliefs and you will be well on your way to bringing positive change and fully supporting the school community.
Step 5: Have an online presence. Creating a positive online presence is not only necessary, but extremely valuable. We are able to stay connected and build Professional Learning Networks through the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, and Pinterest. After you have created your online portfolio, look around at “mentor” examples and mimic some of their styles. For an extremely valuable learning opportunity, engage in an online Twitter chat (#engagechat, #edchat, etc.) and start building your network. Be sure to maintain your online presence and encourage others to follow your example.
Good luck, stay positive throughout the entire journey, and always remember to keep children and education at the heart of why you are making the switch from teacher to administrator.
Matthew Johnson is Elementary Assistant Principal at Shekou International School. Twitter: @int_educator. Blog:

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