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Making the Switch: How to Successfully Transition from Teaching to Administration

After years of serving and leading students in the classroom, it could be time to make the leap into administration. Transitioning from teacher to administrator can present seasoned educational professionals with new challenges as administrators take responsibility for many aspects of school programming, including academics, student life, parent relations, and facilities management.

It’s important for teachers leaving the classroom for the principal’s office to step gracefully into those new responsibilities. As Sean Cassel, a former high school English teacher turned administrator, said in an Edutopia article, “The transition from teacher to administrator is a perspective-changing experience on many levels.” The following tips can help you successfully make the transition from teaching to administration.

1. Listen and Learn

Effective leaders are great listeners. An article published in the journal Theory Into Practice found that when leaders listened to students, school reform efforts strengthened and students’ perspectives changed. Those results are typical for leaders who listen to anyone involved in the daily processes of the school. By listening, leaders can bridge the gap between what they perceive within the school and what the faculty and students see.

2. Empathize with Faculty and Staff

Empathy is everything in leadership. Administrators can easily forget what it was like to face a room filled with students while dealing with insufficient resources, challenging situations, dissatisfied parents and even their own feelings of self-doubt. Those transitioning from teaching to administration have an advantage as those experiences are still fresh in their minds. Understanding the daily struggles and successes of the faculty and staff will likely direct better administration.

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Transition from teaching to administration with East Central’s Master’s in Educational Leadership. This program is designed with working teachers in mind and is flexible to fit your busy schedule

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3. Develop Your Decision-Making Skills

Making decisions can seem easy, but making effective decisions requires a more thoughtful process than many people realize. Effective decision-makers balance emotion with reason, know how to measure the impact of their choices and have learned to feel comfortable with uncertainty. This ability comes with time and experience, but one way to develop decision-making skills is to incorporate others into the process. It may seem counterintuitive, but as you familiarize yourself with multiple points of view, you’ll more easily be able to envision those perspectives on your own and speed up the time you spend on decisions.

4. Communicate with Your Team

A study from The Economist Intelligence Unit found that poor communication leads to “a delay or failure to complete projects, low morale, missed performance goals” and more. In that same study, a lack of strong leadership was one of the top reasons reported for poor communication. By keeping school faculty and staff informed, leaders can reduce speculation, improve morale and drive better teacher engagement.

5. Work on Your Conflict Management Skills

Conflict management skills can make or break a leader. After all, conflict is inevitable, and, in an organizational setting, it falls to the leader to manage it in ways that promote growth. Stress management techniques, the principles of good communication and strong problem-solving skills can help a new leader mitigate team conflict.

6. Apply Your Teaching Skills to Administration

Seasoned teachers make effective leaders. The same strategies that were successful in your classroom with students will likely prove effective in your new administrative role. Conflict resolution, instructional design, mentorship – there are overlaps in many areas of the two career paths. That’s why it’s important for school administrators to have several years of classroom experience.

More than classroom experience, an online master’s degree in educational leadership will prepare teachers to transition out of the classroom and into administrative roles. These programs are designed with working teachers in mind and are flexible to fit around your busy schedule. The online Master of Education in Educational Leadership program from East Central University will help you gain the confidence and skills necessary to carry out your new responsibilities effectively.