I have been very blessed by the team of administrators that I have worked for in my time. This year I am working on getting my administration certification. I have had several people ask me if I was crazy. Even more people warn me about the time commitment that comes with becoming an administrator. Yet, I have also experienced such an outpouring of support from “my people”. This includes the people I work with in the Fayetteville Public School system as well as everyone who has supported me as I have pursued my career in education.
One of the most common pieces of advice that I have received is that being a department chair is not enough; everyone applying for an administrative position is a department chair. I must do something to distinguish myself from other people. I have been given an amazing opportunity to work with other aspiring leaders in my district through a cohort in Fayetteville Public Schools. We have met together to discuss characteristics of leaders, how to be a leader in a school as an educator, and how to pursue your dreams of becoming an administrator. During our meeting I was presented with several great ideas on how to grow, but a few really stood out as things that I could improve upon.
Have a digital footprint
Well, here I am! In today’s digital world you need an online presence. If a team is about to interview you for a position, they are first going to search for you on the internet. What will they find when they enter your name?
Having a digital footprint does not mean that you have to write your own blog or publish articles online. It simply means that you need to have some form of online presence.
You can achieve this by being active on social media. Not only does social media provide a way for you to network, but there are also amazing resources being shared all of the time. If you create a lesson on a public platform such as Kahoot, Quizizz, Educreation, and other educational apps, then make sure you have your name on it. These are all ways for you to leave a mark on the digital work.
Know your lid size and how to raise it
The idea of your lid comes from John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Law’s of Leadership. The concept is that your lid is your knowledge and leadership capacity. If you are at a 7, then only people with 7 or below you will want to work for you. If you are going into an interview with a lid cap of 4, then the administration team will be looking for someone with a higher lid than yours.
Now, it is not expected of you to have a lid capacity of 10 in everything. That is simply not possible. As an educator you need to have your areas of expertise and continue to learn and stay current in those areas. It is okay to have weaknesses as long as you can surround yourself with people who can lead with you to raise the lid consistently across the board.
Ask for help
Trying to do everything by yourself is impossible and it is not something that is expected or even valued in education. When preparing for your first interview or first day on the job as a new administrator, situations will come up or questions will be asked that you won’t know how to answer. Be humble and find a mentor who can guide you through this process. All current administrators had to start at the beginning, too. They know where you are and can help you along the way.
Volunteer for committees
Time is a luxury that teachers and educators unfortunately do not have much of. Having said that, if you are ready to take your next step into a role as an educational leader, then you must make time to volunteer. Different committees will provide opportunities to learn as much as possible. This gives educators an opportunity to branch out from their disciplines. Being well rounded with at least a basic understanding of all areas is crucial to be a successful administrator.
Get involved: conferences and organizations
Being a life long learner is part of the job in education. There are always new researches coming out with better ways to individualize instruction, new approaches with technology, and ways to collaborate as a team that will lend themselves to better student achievement.
Joining organizations such as AAEA, NASSP, and ASCD will provide resources to help you make that transition from the classroom to office in a school. You should also attend conferences that will give you hands on experience with the new professional development being brought into schools.
Presenting at these conferences is an added bonus. I am sure it is not hard to imagine, but from my experience teaching adult educators is way more challenging than teaching children. It takes practice, so apply all of the time for any conferences you can to present.
Leave a legacy
Lastly, when you leave one position you need to make sure you have left a legacy. This is extremely important to me as I am one of the first math specific ESL teachers in my school. I am definitely the first ESL caseload manager that is a math teacher.
It has been my goal to help write and develop the curriculum for the high school math team while keeping our ESL population in mind . This has included doing professional development on math strategies for ELLs and working with teachers in my building on modifying classroom assignments and assessments to meet the needs of our students.
When I leave this position I want to have made a difference in the lives of the students that I have taught, but I also want to leave a legacy for the next person who will come in and take my position.
The tagline for this blog is “learning through educating”. In education, my students teach me every day even though I am supposed to be the one doing the teaching. I learn new ways that students view the world and how their minds work. They challenge me every day to be a better teacher. I know that when I am ready and take my first job as an administrator, the educators in my building will be teaching me as well. We are all in this career together and must better each other every day and be what the next generation needs us to be.