International Schools Review
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How to become an administrator?

How to become an administrator?

Postby andybaxley86 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:54 am

Hello everyone,
My immediate goal is to get the education and experience I need to teach elementary internationally. In 10-15 years or so, however, I hope to transition into an administrative role and eventually become the principal of a good international school. I'm wondering, for those of you who are currently administrators, how did you get to where you are today?
What kinds of experience/education should I be focusing on if I hope to one day become an administrator? I know I'm thinking very long term here, but I want to make sure my ducks are in a row from the beginning. Thank you very much!
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Postby newguy » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:12 pm

This is also something I have been considering. How much teaching experience should one have before transitioning into admin? I've heard there's a sweet spot (10-15 years) and having too much can actually hurt you.

Psy mentioned this in another thread, but getting that first admin job seems to be the hardest hurdle. You would almost have to go home to get that initial 2-3 years in admin before going to an international school, right?
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Postby PsyGuy » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:14 am

the first admin position is the hardest hurdle. I didnt get mine until i got my doctorate, which was the determining factor, since i was the only one in the candidate pool that had a doctorate.
ISs usually promote inexperienced admins internally, for that "first" admin position, after that its just moving up and moving around to different schools. Mobility is very important for those on admin career tracks, as there is much more of a ladder to climb. Unlike teachers who basically have 2 positions "Teacher" and HOD (also called "Chair" "Lead", "Senior", etc teaching titles).

The sweet spot is closer to five years, depending on how you define or interpret an "admin", and how far you want to go. Junior admins are usually around 5 years, senior admins between 5-10 years and executive admins over 10 years. If your ambitions are really junior admin level 3 years is the earliest for someone with a special skill set.
Part of this is that many admin qualification programs require several years of classroom teaching experience before you can even pursue them. So you may need 3 years of classroom experience before going into a program (typically a masters level program) which takes 1-2 years then you need at leats a year if not a couple years experience as an admin to be competitive so your looking at 4-6 years before your "there".

An advance degree (at least masters level) is for all practical purposes a pre-requisite for a senior admin position, and are mandated for some junior admin positions (such as counselor, librarian). I know of only a handful of admins who have only a bachlors (this excludes admins who are F&F of ownership and were appointed on that basis).

The best track/option is to find a school you like, stay for years while getting a M.Ed and then move into a senior teaching position (HOD) or Coordinator (Junior Admin) position.
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Postby specialed » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:29 am

Where did you go to get your doctorate? Did you do it online or face-to-face at a school?
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Postby PsyGuy » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:52 am

I did mine outside the States. I didnt do it online, but it wouldnt be accurate to say i did it F2F either. Outside the USA in addition to the number of "professional" doctorates available Ph.D are further divided into "taught" and "research" doctorates. A taught Ph.D is very much like one in the states, typically 5 years with your first 2-3 years in course work, and then 1-2 years doing a small book dissertation. A research doctorate is just a dissertation, no coursework. As such you dont have the same residency requirements or necessity as a taught program. These are typically 3 year programs but can be finished sooner. Mine was a research doctorate.
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Postby joethelion » Thu May 02, 2013 4:03 pm

You'd first want to check with your health insurance plan to see if it covers the requisite lobotomy.
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Postby hikkaduwa » Thu May 02, 2013 4:26 pm

My current head of primary school has about 5 years experience and a BEd

My current PYP Coordinator has around 8 years of experience and also a BEd. She and I both interviewed for this role and she finally got it because of more experience and more age groups (she had taught grades 1, 3, 5 and I only grade 4). I had just over 3 years of experience at the time).

I agree it is hard to get that first admin job and the best way is to get an internal promotion and then move from there.
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Postby sid » Fri May 03, 2013 6:02 am

I see things a little differently than PG.
I wouldn't put librarians and counselors as admin. To me, admin posts are ones where your job is to coordinate major school initiatives and organize/inspire/supervise other adults.
HOD and IB Coordinator posts are quasi-admin in most cases. Not all. I say this because you typically do these roles in addition to teaching, and you aren't responsible for officially supervising others. When you get to the level where you have decision-making power in hiring and firing, then you have reached true admin level. Especially the firing part. Nobody wants to be the one sitting across the table and telling someone he has to go, nobody even wants to be the one sitting around a table and deciding that a certain teacher has to go, but ultimately someone has to make that call for the good of the students, and that's admin.
I believe one should generally spend at least 10 years in the classroom before moving into admin. You can take on quasi admin roles at any point where a school will let you, but that ultimate move out of the classroom shouldn't happen until you've got enough experience to make you credible and somewhat wise. If you're advising a teacher on what they need to do, and the teacher is thinking 'this guy only has three years classroom experience to my 15', life won't be easy. In part, because you won't really have the experience to figure out what's right.
Getting that first admin post is the hard part. Quasi admin posts are relatively easy, apologies to those who haven't got one yet. But real admin posts are at least 10 times harder to get, if its possible to put a number on it. The best bets are either an internal promotion, or taking an admin post in a location nobody wants to go to. Like your first international teaching post, you can put in a couple tough years, prove yourself, and then move up the chain.
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Postby IAMBOG » Fri May 03, 2013 6:17 am

"I wouldn't put librarians and counselors as admin. To me, admin posts are ones where your job is to coordinate major school initiatives and organize/inspire/supervise other adults." SID

Thanks for saying that, Sid. I thought that was a bit odd. Is there anyone else on here that would consider these positions admin?
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Postby overseasvet2 » Fri May 03, 2013 11:59 am

Librarians and counselors would.
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Postby sid » Sat May 04, 2013 11:58 am

When someone says 'I want to get my first admin post', it's doubtful he means to become a librarian. He'd say that. The preparation is completely different in terms of coursework and job experience, there is no common chain of promotion from teacher to librarian/counselor to principal, and schools often, but not always, have librarians/counselors on the teaching pay scale, not the admin pay scale. There is no need to first teach before becoming a librarian/counselor. Librarians/counselors are different from teachers, a good one is worth their weight in gold, but they are not generally admin.
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Postby PsyGuy » Fri May 10, 2013 3:04 am

I disagree with Sid, his model is a two tier management model, where your either management or your not. There nothing wrong with that model and you do see it often enough.

According to Sid though a school wide "librarian" who supervises 3 campus librarians, 3 additional campus assistant librarians, 6 pages/clerks, a small staff of IT support personal as well as his/her own assistant, in addition to managing a substantial budget doesnt qualify as an "administrator". I would disagree.

What it really comes down to is what does the person do, and what responsibilities are they given by senior admin. A counselor whos job description is mostly student management, regardless of title is in an administrative position. If the schools behavior management policy delegates that a student referred for behavioral action first stops off at the counselors office, and that counselor determines wether the students situation warrants further corrective action or gets sent back to the classroom, thats administration.
In a number of cases counselors/librarians have administrative functions because they have administrative tasks, in some cases for no other reason then these individuals have the time and resources to do them.
Again, in a small school without a SEN/LS HOD, the counselor may supervise and manage SEN/LS services, and in such case is functioning as the SPED HOD. That makes them an admin, if only a junior admin.

Under Sids description an AP/VP/DP/Dean who doesnt hire or fire wouldnt be considered an admin? I know lots of APs/VPs/DPs/Deans who would disagree with that, mainly because its just wrong.

If we look at an ISs admin team you can describe 4 tiers of administration based on their general level of Authority:

1) Executive Admin: Often the HOS the school Director these individuals exercise "hiring authority" meaning they can push the button (too hire) and pull the trigger (to fire). They run the school as ownerships representative. In an American school district this would be the superintendent.

2) Senior Admin: These are the principals (but coordinator is used sometimes) and assistant principals (AP's), Vice Principals (VPs), DP's (Deputy Principals) and Deans. A school usually has a principal per 'school', such as the primary and secondary school principals (or intermediate/middle school principal) or in the case of IB PYP, MYP, DIP school principals. These admin have "tasking authority", meaning that they can direct what you do. Your going to teach these classes at these times, and your there is a faculty meeting at 4:00 on friday, attendance is mandatory, etc. In some school the senior admin mainly principals may also have executive (hiring/firing) authority.

3) Junior Admin: These are the HODs (Head of Department) and Coordinators. these individuals have "reporting authority" meaning they can and do report on your performance and actions from a variety of sources including observation, written evaluations and informal verbal commentary from other parties.

4) Professional Staff: These are the counselors, librarians and other non supervisory coordinators who have documentary authority. They produce documents that may reflect aspects of your service and performance. A DIP coordinator that compiles a report on exam scores correlated to classroom marks could use all sorts of metrics to reflect your performance in a positive or negative light.

I really need to address the title of coordinator, which in IB is even more confusing, since a coordinator could have varying degrees of authority. Coordinator could describe anyone from a principal to professional staff.
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Postby newguy » Fri May 10, 2013 11:44 am

[quote="sid"] When someone says 'I want to get my first admin post', it's doubtful he means to become a librarian. He'd say that. The preparation is completely different in terms of coursework and job experience, there is no common chain of promotion from teacher to librarian/counselor to principal, and schools often, but not always, have librarians/counselors on the teaching pay scale, not the admin pay scale. There is no need to first teach before becoming a librarian/counselor. Librarians/counselors are different from teachers, a good one is worth their weight in gold, but they are not generally admin. [/quote]

I agree with this perspective. Personally I think of admin as those who directly supervise others, usually as a principal/vice principal. Maybe it's just my experiences in the west, but I've never heard of regular counselors/librarians being considered admin.

This is not including the "librarian who supervises 3 campus librarians, 3 additional campus assistant librarians, 6 pages/clerks, a small staff of IT support personal as well as his/her own assistant, in addition to managing a substantial budget". It seems disingenuous to equate this to the duties of a regular librarian.
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Postby PsyGuy » Wed May 15, 2013 10:36 am

@newguy

So a regular librarian who directly supervises a single assistant librarian which is pretty common, by your definition then qualifies as an administrator, since they "directly supervise others"?
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