For teachers who have earned a master’s degree in educational administration, some of the first job opportunities that come to mind are school principal, assistant principal or dean. But working at the building level is just one of the options available in education administration. Educators with classroom experience looking for that next step in educational leadership may find the right fit in a position at the district level. Although they do not work directly with students, those in district-level positions make important decisions that affect schools, teachers, students and the community.
Many experienced teachers have a desire to move into education administration but do not want to leave the school environment. Because they enjoy the daily interaction with students, these graduates often want to work in a K-12 building as a principal, assistant principal or dean.
Principals work with a variety of issues that affect students and teachers alike. Although they are not involved in direct instruction, principals stay current on curriculum basics. The principal is responsible for not only providing time for professional development but also determining what courses or programs would most benefit each teacher or team. Principals oversee the maintenance of a safe and clean learning facility. As the final decision-maker, the principal is often responsible for addressing more serious student misconduct. Further, as the “face” of the school, principals are also available to parents and community leaders to address student and family concerns.
In many larger schools and districts, a graduate entering the field of education administration must serve as assistant principal (AP) or dean of students before being appointed principal. In some cases, a school will have multiple APs or deans, and the responsibilities may vary depending on the school’s administrative structure.
According to Erica Kegarise, assistant principal (West Aurora High School, Aurora, Illinois), one of the responsibilities for educators in these positions is to monitor student behavior and academic progress. They identify students whose behavior interferes with instruction or who need additional academic support. Then, working collaboratively with the student, family, social worker, teachers and other administrators, the AP or dean will create and monitor an individualized support plan.
Other duties, including organization of student activities, class and event scheduling, overseeing athletics and managing services for students with special needs may also be the responsibility of a dean or assistant principal. In almost all cases, educators in education administration work together to provide seamless support to both teachers and students.
Many educators in administrative positions work behind the scenes at the district level to ensure that there are no interruptions to student instruction and services. These education administrators are often called “directors” or “coordinators.” They manage district-wide initiatives involving curriculum, assessment, professional development, and programs for students with special needs. They also facilitate smooth transitions between buildings as students move from elementary to middle to high school. This involves policy decisions regarding academic progress from school to school as well as consistent behavior expectations.
In some districts, the Director of Teaching and Learning works directly with teachers and professional development providers. They follow trends in direct instruction and bring up-to-date methods and practices to classroom teachers and educational paraprofessionals. The Director of Curriculum evaluates new programs and determines how best to use materials to support direct instruction and intervention programs. And the Director of Assessment manages the administration and reporting of district, state and federal testing. The titles of these positions may vary by district, but the tasks and responsibilities all rely on a well-prepared educator with a Master of Education in Educational Administration.
One of the master’s degrees for teachers that provides the required preparation to work in educational administration is a Master of Arts in Educational Administration. As an administrator, candidates provide support for teachers and students and the necessary structure for well-organized programs and instruction. Serving as a building or district administrator can be very rewarding, whether designing programs, selecting resources or maintaining a safe and secure learning environment.
Learn more about the CSUSM online MA in Educational Administration program.
Kegarise, Erica. Personal interview. April 12, 2016.
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