Teaching is often called a dead-end career because there is not a clear path upwards from a teaching position.
In comparison, junior marketers might aspire to become chief marketing officers and local committee members might dream of being elected president, but teachers start as teachers and they usually end their careers in the exact same spot.
So, what if you’re a teacher with ambition?
What if you want to accomplish more than you can in the classroom and earn a higher salary, too?
Then, my friend, you need to get into education administration — but doing that isn’t as easy as earning a promotion.
Go Back to School
You gained academic degrees to get you into the classroom — but to get into the school’s administrative office, you’ll need a different set of credentials.
Teaching experience is advantageous in an administrative setting, but the education you received to help you generate lesson plans and control students doesn’t exactly directly apply to an administrative role. Thus, you’ll need to go back to school, this time focusing on education administration.
You don’t have to completely redo your academic accomplishments; rather, a master’s degree in education administration should do.
A master’s program will provide exposure to the issues concerning ed administrators and equip you with the proper tools to address those issues.
For instance, you might learn more about how race and socioeconomic status affect student bodies, and you might gain familiarity with law and regulation relating to these issues.
Most master’s programs allow you to concentrate in a certain sector of ed admin, like higher education, special education, principalship or instructional design. You can find viable programs online or at night schools, so you don’t have to take a break from teaching to earn your degree.
Engage With the Education Community
Before, during and after your enrollment in an education administration program, you should be establishing a name for yourself within the education community and building a network of contacts you can use to find a position in administration and make positive change for your schools.
Your first step might be to ensure you are the best teacher possible; earning a nomination (or a win!) for best teacher in the school, district, state or country will bring recognition and support.
Of course, there are other ways to gain a greater role within the education community prior to entering ed admin. You might seek out a mentor in administration, who can introduce you to higher-ups within your education system.
You should serve on a number of your school’s committees, which not only will raise your profile but also will give you experience with the difficulty of getting things done in an administrative setting.
You might petition to attend education conferences, where you’ll gain new insights about learning, education tools and more. At the very least, you should interface often with fellow teachers and engaged parents, whom you will need on your side when you become an administrator.
Know the Transition Pitfalls
Many teachers before you have made the transition from classroom to office, and many teachers before you have failed spectacularly.
To make your entry into education administration successful, you need to learn from others’ mistakes.
Here are some common pitfalls of the transition from teacher to administrator:
You might feel at a loss for time now, but administrators must be even more effective at managing their time.
While teachers have clear endpoints — a stack of essays that need grading — administrative duties are less cut-and-dry. Thus, administrators need to be better at recognizing what they can accomplish in a day and planning their schedules accordingly.
It’s easy for administrators to hole up in their offices and never come into contact with students, teachers, parents and other important people.
Yet, doing so is disadvantageous to your work. During your transition, you should make a commitment to meet parties face to face, if only to remember what you are working for.
Contrary to popular belief, education doesn’t and shouldn’t always remain the same.
While parents might moan that classrooms don’t look like what they grew up with, the truth is that new research and tools improve learning and benefit students and teachers alike. You should commit to continuing education yourself, so you can make the best possible decisions for your school.
Different concerns will pull you in different directions throughout your administrative career. While being receptive to new ideas is important, it is equally important that you develop thick skin and determination, which will help you stand firm and make a difference.
Teaching isn’t a dead-end job; it’s a lifelong opportunity to make an impact.
However, if you have grown bored of the classroom and want a challenge that allows you even greater impact on the community, you need to leap from teaching to administrating — and you need to start today.