Has anyone ever had (or been) a first year principal who....

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Sarge, Jun 4, 2016.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    had come straight from the classroom into the position? I other words, it was their first admin position and they had never been a vice or assistant principal before.

    In that case, would the fact that they had (or didn't have) significant (15+ years) of teaching experience matter?

    And let's assume that they have all the necessary admin training in order to qualify for the job. In other words a credential they didn't get from simply taking a test.

    How did they do?
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I think during my maternity leave, the principal that year had been a teacher the year before, with no previous admin experience outside of the usual internship/education process. This principal did have tons of teaching experience though (I think maybe 20+ or perhaps even more years?).

    The principal was unbelievably positive and supportive, and was wonderful in working with parents (which makes sense: as a teacher, you know how to connect with teachers and parents!), though admittedly was very "new" to it, in that the leadership I felt wasn't 100% as crisp as my current principal. To be fair though, the principal I have now has been one for a while, and had previous leadership experience in a non-principal setting.
     
  4. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    Everyone starts somewhere! I have my admin certificate and I'll be looking for a principal/assistant principal job next school year. This upcoming year, I'm taking on a mentor teacher role to get leadership experience so i can appear more marketable. I am young though (almost 31) so I have time.

    I think I'd be more worried about having a brand new principal who had very limited classroom experience.
     
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  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yep. 3 of 4 of the assistant principals at my school came straight from the classroom to 1st year vice principal. They have all been fantastic. I will add, that the culture at my school has been very strong, it has been teacher driven versus admin driven.
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Here, principals must be a VP first--those who are exceptional in the VP role will usually get a P position quickly--within 3 years or so. Our current VP was in a classroom until a couple of days before she came to us; she's one of the best I have ever worked for. Some of the least effective administrators I have encountered aren't effective because they have forgotten what it's like to be in the classroom.
     
  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Around here, most districts only have VP's in secondary. If most of your experience is elementary, I would think it would be hard to get a middle school or high school VP position.
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    In our district all schools have a VP including elementary schools. As far as I can tell it seems most elementary VPs were former elementary school teachers and vice versa, although I am sure there are some exceptions.

    Where you work are all principals and VPs former secondary teachers? I see a disconnect if an entire districts VPs and Principals are all coming from teaching in secondary classrooms. I can't say I would be surprised if this is the case, but I do not see the logic in it and seems it would cause issues.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In my district you have to climb a bit of an admin ladder before becoming a principal.

    I've worked with teachers who became entry-level administrators. Some of them were great at being administrators and some were terrible. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to whether a person would become a good administrator. Almost all of them were exemplary classroom teachers, but those skills didn't always translate well to administrator positions.

    Honestly, I'd be very wary of a principal who had never been an administrator before. I wouldn't prefer to work for one if I had a choice.
     
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  10. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I just completed year three as a VP. I have no desire whatsoever to apply for a principal role at this point. Although I know I could do the job very well, I still have a lot more things I want to learn and accomplish as a VP before I even consider applying for a principalship.
     
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  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am curios Caesar, what does your district consider an entry level administrator? In my district vice principal would be considered the entry level admin job.
     
  12. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    This was my first year as an assistant principal with 20+ years of teaching. I thought I knew so much about the workings of a school because of my teaching experience, but I was wrong! LOL! My learning curve was *enormous*!

    I knew, on a surface level, that assistant principals dealt with discipline and managing the schools resources (including human resources), but the logistics of doing that using systems I wasn't even aware existed was a challenge. There were (and still are) so many laws and district policies that shape my decisions... the first 3 months, I never assigned a discipline consequence without consulting the other 2 assistant principals in my building! (Thankfully, they were very understanding and helpful... as was my principal!) And discipline is the crux of my job. This was more disheartening than I though it would be. There were more than a few occasions when I thought to myself, "did I really earn a masters to mediate arguments between two 11 year old girls arguing over who likes what boy?!" Much of the required work of my job had to be done after school dismissed for the day. During the day, I was often consumed with handling discipline issues (which, of course, can't be scheduled). I never had time to sit and eat lunch with any adult. I ate on the go, as I ran around the building! I miss lunch with my coworkers. I also missed building relationships with the kids. That was a lot harder to do when they only saw me in the halls telling them to get to class! I learned that breakfast and lunch duty was the best time to get to know them. I walked around and chatted with lots of kids, got to know their names (I never thought that would be possible in a school of 1200 kids!), and started making connections. By the end of the year, I felt the same kind of satisfaction I had in the classroom concerning getting to know the kids.

    Having a significant amount of teaching experience has been very beneficial to me. The teachers automatically gave me "street cred" because chances are I've experienced a situation similar to the ones they face. My default position was also usually "pro teacher," so they appreciated that! Sadly, however, I learned that there is a very small handful of not-so-good teachers out there who do some really questionable things and damage the reputation of all good teachers.

    In my district, your teaching experience does tend to be an important consideration in placing you in an admin position. Elementary teachers work as elementary administrators, secondary teachers are secondary administrators. Everyone has to be an "admin in training" for a year, and that role is always as an assistant principal. No one goes to the "big chair" straight from the classroom.

    Now that year one is officially behind me, I feel a lot better about my decision to leave the classroom. I won't lie... from Oct.- Dec. I really questioned my choice! But the second semester got easier, and now, most of the time, I feel like I can answer the questions and solve the issues I'm challenged with resolving! I'm ready for year two!
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
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  13. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I had a principal many years ago who went from music teacher to principal. She is still the principal at that school and that was 16 years ago.

    This was a small school and she had no assisstant for the first five years until the town grew.
     
  14. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Nobody in my district becomes a principal without first being an AP in the district.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It depends on the level. At elementary schools, the entry-level administrator position is usually assistant principal. At secondary schools, it's dean. There are also other non-school-site admin gigs that people can move into as a first-time administrator, such as coordinators and directors of specific programs, grade levels, or content areas.

    I've never heard of a situation where a teacher was able to move directly into a principal position. That just isn't done here.
     
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  16. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Our elementaries are fairly small and do not have VP's. Admin thinks nothing of taking a MS or HS teacher and making them an elem principal. It is much more difficult for an elem teacher to get a job as an elem principal.

    Our current P is fine, because he knows he has a lot to learn. Our last P from MS was....well, not so successful.
     
  17. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    My principal taught for many years (various grade levels) and went straight into being a principal at my school. I wasn't here for her first year - I came her second. This year is her third. She is phenomenal. I absolutely love her. She is supportive, encouraging, and innovative. She has great relationships with parents and always has our backs when things with parents go awry. She has a vast network of principals she networks with, so she learns a lot from them, and they learn from her! She's made me a better teacher.

    I'm sure it wouldn't work for everyone, but I think the right person can be a great principal without being a lower level admin first.

    I think I'm in the same region of CA as you are, and I know APs and VPs at the elementary level are pretty scarce.
     
  18. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Who facilitates testing (CELDT, CAASPP, and other benchmarks/formative assessments)?

    In surrounding districts throughout my area of CA, pretty much every elementary has a VP/AP, but our schools range from 650-850 students each--so it's definitely a necessity to have two administrators on campus.
     
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  19. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    For our district, an AP is added usually once the school reaches a certain size. Our principal has had a busy past couple years with relatively large school (~600-650, I think) and no AP. Next year, we get a half-time AP, though, as the district I think is putting at least a half-time in each school.
     
  20. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Even when a school has an AP, counsellors have been test facilitators everywhere I've been but this is in Texas.
     
  21. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    On our campus, one of our assistant principals is the testing coordinator. In our neighboring district, the testing coordinator is a separate position filled by a certified teacher.
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The way things vary immensely from district-to-district really intrigues me.

    As a VP, one of the hats I wear is Site Testing Coordinator. That particular role takes up a lot of my time.
     
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  23. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I work in a charter with a few different campuses. We have an instructional tech/testing administrator over all our schools, so he is in charge of all of our testing (and does an amazing job). My school is expanding next year (opening a new building), so we are getting a TOSA. She is going to be doing a lot of the CELDT and testing stuff at our site level. We have less than 400 students right now, so we haven't needed more than one admin.

    My previous school in socal had 1,000 students, so there was definitely a second administrator. I think it does depend on school size.
     
  24. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Our principal this had already turned in her resignation by the time testing started. Then in the middle of it, she went out on leave for the remainder of the year.
     
  25. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Yes, I did. I was less than impressed with this person as an administrator because she was mousy and wouldn't take a stand with overbearing parents who demanded they get their own way and didn't apply what I would consider appropriate discipline when needed. Examples: Parents demand their child be given a better grade because XYZ, demand their child be moved to another room because the teacher is unfair (that was geared to me) when the teacher did not give the child special treatment PER THEIR REQUEST (the child clearly had learning needs we were not prepared to address in the Catholic school where I worked), a seventh grader ran away from school in the middle of the day and came back later on his own (I think it was 45 minutes to an hour he was gone) and given a candy bar as a "thank you" but no consequences for leaving in the first place. I've also had admins who did complete all the training and teaching requirements who were less than stellar. I don't think you would do anything like these, however. I think the effectiveness of the admin has less to do with training and years of teaching than personality and suitability for the job.
     
  26. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Our current principal just completed their first year ever in administration. We hired them from outside the district, from a middle school math teacher to elementary (PK-5) principal. I think it was overall a great year. Very positive and upbeat, excellent rapport with most teachers, parents, and students. High energy. Of course there were some mistakes but they were owned and corrected when possible. Like a previous poster said, everyone has to start somewhere. We were all first year teachers once, so is true for administrators. I could see this being more of an issue with a larger building/district. I'm very rural, school population is 600 students. We are also a connected district, so middle school & high school admins are readily available for guidance. District office is also in the building. We do not have assistant principals in any building. There is a director of special programs for the district, which is technically an admin job, but the person with that job has no admin experience. Went from HS guidance to director 2 years ago.

    I think it is possible to succeed but individual circumstances would definitely come into play. Some people are natural leaders, others have to grow into it, and some never get it.
     

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