Becoming principal & Principal duties

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 773 Miles Away, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2010

    This is not something I want to achieve in the next year or so, I'm definitely thinking long term, but I would like to eventually pursue a position as an elementary school principal. That being said, I am CLUELESS regarding the entire process.

    (if it matters, I live in MA)

    Do I need to take specific courses?
    Do I need to go as far as obtaining a specific degree?
    Do I need to take any specific state tests?

    Furthermore, and probably more importantly, do you know where I can get more insight on the profession in general? I am drawn to the leadership responsibilities but I am fully aware that there is a lot more to the profession than I can currently imagine. What are the ups and downs of a principal?? What are the specific duties?

    Thanks :)
     
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  3. stevesgirl

    stevesgirl Companion

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I live in MA also. You need a license to be a principal in MA in your grade level. The easiest way to get your license is to get a Masters in Educational Leadership. Many of our state schools offer an on-line degree, which is what I am currently doing. You also need to complete an internship and a portfolio before obtaining your license. Go to the Mass. DOE website and you can get more information there.
     
  4. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2010

    To be a successful principal, you need the following traits:

    *Be an excellent talker.....you do this the majority of your day (parents, students, staff).

    *Be an excellent problem solver....you also do this the majority of your day.

    *Be an excellent operational manager (you do this the majority of your off-time...LOL)

    *Be excellent at inspiring others....much more difficult than it sounds.

    I could go on as the list goes on and on.
     
  5. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    All very true! I definitely knew this based on my observations of my own principal as a classroom teacher.

    What kind of duties are in your profession that is often underestimated or unknown to "outsiders"?
     
  6. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I guess it depends on the personality style of the principal....some take on everything, some are better at delegating, some do very little and the school is pretty self sufficient on its own (or not), etc.

    But I think one thing that is unique to all of them and that is often underestimated is the amount of fires that are burning at one time in the life of a principal.

    For instance, two grade level teachers may come to me with an issue such as: We are going on a field trip and parents are not allowed to attend unless they've attended the volunteer training. One mother has told us she plans to drive herself and meet us down there even though she has not completed the training.

    This may be the biggest frustration of their day, or of their week. Oh the NERVE of that mother, how dare she not follow the rules. Mrs. TiffanyL, PLEASE PUT A STOP TO HER. Please show her that she will not GET AWAY WITH THIS. ARGGGGHHHHHHH!

    Now me, on the other hand, big deal. Do you honestly want me to tell a mother that she cannot attend a public place? Do you honestly want me to drive to the field trip location and camp out waiting for her, rather than being on campus that day. Okay, and then when she arrives, just what do you want me to do? Physically accost her? Call the police and tell them she didn't attend our training?

    Now, of course, I would never explain it to the teachers that way. I'd be respectful and empathetic to their situation. But sometimes teachers may leave a principal's office with a "geesh, she/he didn't even do anything. That mom just gets to break the rule and show up."

    Mind you, they don't realize that I still have two CPS reports to make, an irate father to meet with who will take at least two hours to calm down and bring about to a rational state of mind, two parents who had a verbal shouting war on campus earlier in the day, and a multitude of emails that I have not yet responded to. Good gracious... if a mother loves her child enough to want to go on the field trip but didn't make it to the training....well, she can't chaperon a group of kids but at least she loves her child.

    If you are a skilled principal, your staff and families will never see your stress level rise. I know mine don't ever see it. In fact, a big compliment I received from one of my teachers last year was, "I have never seen you cranky or stressed. The only way I can tell you might not be having a great day is because your smile isn't quite as broad as normal....but you are always still smiling."

    Now that is a compliment but its also sometimes a curse.....because they never see or understand how much is going on behind the scenes. Their problem must indeed be your biggest problem of the day.....I hope that answers your question.
     
  7. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Good point! It seems like this must have been quite the ordeal for you, you seemed to vent about the whole chaperone incident a lot!! haha was this an actual experience for you?
     
  8. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Oh no, I'm not venting at all. I don't have a reason to vent about my job as I love what I do.

    You asked what "is often underestimated or goes unknown"?

    My response to that is the fact that there are many fires burning....constantly. I can't overemphasize the word constantly.

    Yet, when someone comes into your office, you can't tell them, "Look, I'm dealing with so many other issues, yours is bottom of the list for me."

    You have to make every person feel as if you own their problem as well, you understand it, you get it.....whether it is the biggest fire of the day or the smallest fire of the day.

    That is what is often underestimated or unknown to others.
     
  9. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I think the time commitment is the biggest issue for me. I am getting my admin certification in the future and the fact that the P needs to be present at almost everything, from night events to board meetings, intimidates me. I can only imagine how hard it must be to take a sick day if things are going on at the school. Of course, that also depends on how well the school runs on it's own.
     
  10. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Do you find that the path to becoming a principal is via being an assistant principal first? I know it requires admin experience.... As a classroom teacher I currently am part of our Instructional
    Leadership Team but thats about it. I have known some teachers who became coaches who then became principals... But then I would hafta leave the classroom :( I love being in the class and would rather do that up until being a principal.
     
  11. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I don't know of any principal that came directly from the classroom, but I'm sure there are some out there. Most become AP's first. I was sad when I first left the classroom, but I got over it once I had different responsibilities that I focused on. When I'm observing classrooms, I do get that feeling that I'd like to go back, but I don't think I ever will.
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Here, the path is from classroom teacher to vice-principal to principal. Leadership experience while teaching is essential and the time spent being a vice-principal can vary from just over a year to 5 years or more.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Forgive me if I'm wrong; I'm frequently confused these days.

    But aren't you relatively new to teaching?

    If so, the best advice I can probably give you is to teach as wide a variety of classes and courses as is possible over the next few years.

    One of the most frequent gripes I've read here about administrators is that they seem out of touch with the day to day running of a classroom.

    If you haven't had a lot of experience in a particular level, it's kind of hard to judge how to fix a problem. What works well for 6th graders is almost sure NOT to work as well with pre-schoolers.
     
  14. teacherfourth

    teacherfourth Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2010

    There are many courses available by the local colleges...where in Mass are you>?
     
  15. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Yes, definitely still fresh to the teacher field. I am only beginning my 3rd year of teaching but I am constantly getting a taste for leadership, and I want more!! haha. I'm moving to a new school and will be moving up to 5th grade this year and my new principal is supposed to be amazing so that should be a good opportunity to get more insight. This is not something I plan to pursue in the next few years... I definitely see the benefit of at least 6 or 7 years of teaching before taking that next step.

    But it's just in my personality to investigate things super early. Take for example my upcoming wedding plans... i'm getting married next August (engaged this past May) and I've gotten so much planning taken care of that even 2 months ago I had so much scratched off my to-do list that I have even called around and determined where the girls will get their nails done and for how much! talk about tiny details getting tackled more than a year in advance... lol. It's just in my nature that once I have an idea I'm excited about.. it's all I think about!

    I see the benefit of teaching many grade levels, but I must admit, I don't know if I look forward to teaching lower grades. The thought of teaching 1st grade gives me goosebumps lol... I'm so much more talented with the older kids. I remember in grad school we were placed in 1st grade for literacy as part of a course and I felt SOOOO out of place. It went well... but there's just something about those lil tikes lol.

    My principal at my past school never taught anything lower than 7th and now she's a principal for elementary. I actually had no clue and when I found out I was somewhat surprised because she was also a great principal.

    I live in central MA.
     
  16. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Aug 15, 2010

    Someone may have touched on this, but you need to have a VERY tough skin. I have many friends who have made the transition from teacher to administrator, and all have been really shocked by the fact that some teachers just automatically disliked them, even people they had great working relationships with in the past! The time factor is also something to be aware of. You will no longer have those summer months off or those great holiday breaks. Your work hours will be even longer, and you will need to be "on" almost 24/7. If you have a family, or plan to have a family, it can be rough. However, the very best principal I ever worked for was a mom to 5 great boys, and she was a principal for most of their lives. She managed to strike a balance between work and family. She was great at sharing work with the Asst. Principal and teachers when she needed some time for her family or herself.

    I have thought about going back for a Master's of School Admin degree, but in my state, you don't get to choose the level where you will intern or work. It is just a general degree. My daughter's Kindergarten teacher (who was an elementary and elementary special ed teacher for 17 years) is now an Asst. Principal at a high school! In our area, it is hard to get into the elementary schools as an administrator.
     

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