Guest Post by Tiffany Rowe, Seek Visibility
Already, teachers have an unbelievable impact. Every year, a teacher touches between 20 and 160 young lives every day, on average, and each interaction has the opportunity to change the world by creating a brilliant scientist, an intuitive author, a great artist or an inspired engineer. A good teacher not only facilitates learning in curriculum-guided studies but helps direct students toward beneficial life choices; together, this creates a balanced, productive society of well-meaning, beneficial people.
Unfortunately, as important as teachers are to society, society does not adequately support teachers. Average pay for teachers hovers only just above the national average, which is notably not a living wage in most states. Worse, local and federal governments fail to equip classrooms with the appropriate tools to ensure a high-quality education for every child, so either teachers must supplement with materials from their own pockets or else make do with less-than-acceptable supplies. Recent strikes in West Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma have shown just how unfair the education system has become – but many educators want to do more than walk out on their kids.
Fortunately, there is a way teachers can change not just individual students’ lives but the education system as a whole: becoming an education administrator. Administrators work in school and district offices, making decisions that influence several dozen classrooms at once. Here’s a career guide to educational administration and how it helps teachers make an unbelievably great impact.
How to Become an Education Administrator
The path to education administration can be a long and winding one – or it can be stick-straight for those who know the career they want and are eager to get there fast. Most often, education administrators start as teachers; therefore, an education bachelor’s degree is most common. Still, it is possible to reach education administration from other fields, especially business administration
Skipping past state licensure and teaching experience – which existing teachers already have and prospective teachers know they need – would-be administrators should return to school for an advanced degree that will prepare them for administrative responsibilities. For existing teachers, the best choice is an online master’s degree in educational administration because it allows them to maintain their current employment. Most can fit their coursework into their existing schedules, watching lectures and completing assignments during recess or after school, so they can focus on their own classrooms as necessary. Finally, prospective administrators in most states must pass a final licensure or certification exam to function as principal, superintendent or other top-tier administrator.
The Responsibilities of Education Administrators
An education administration program will prepare future administrators with the advanced skill and knowledge they need to excel in school offices. Subjects include educational law, communications, data analysis, organizational behavior, school finance and leadership programs that instill qualities like integrity, courage and focus. However, during their advanced education, teachers should also look to current administrators, especially those they respect, to better understand what their school needs from leadership.
Education administrators do more than say “We don’t have the budget for that” – though that might be what most teachers primarily see. Different types of administrators will claim different daily duties, especially if they are employed in unconventional workplaces like museums, correctional facilities and community or non-profit organizations. Still, some of the most common education administrative responsibilities in schools include:
- Managing relationships with parents, students and the community
- Developing and maintaining budgets
- Keeping records on teachers, students and the school
- Overseeing student services, such as guidance programs
- Training and managing teachers and other staff
- Cultivating community support, perhaps through public or alumni relations
- Drafting and enforcing regulations
- Purchasing equipment and materials
Why Teachers Make the Best Education Administrators
Teachers are in the trenches, fighting every day to ensure that the next generation is prepared to tackle today’s problems and create a society that is functional into the future. Though other types of administrators might have the leadership experience to keep schools operating, teachers have the knowledge and familiarity with the system to know what needs to change. With the right training, teachers can acquire positions of authority to make the institutional alterations they desperately need, like a longer, more balanced school year and more appropriate grouping of students in classes.
The school system is due for an upgrade, and teachers have shown they aren’t afraid to make their voices heard. With the right credentials, they can project their voices even louder and push through the policies schools actually need.