Requiring teaching experience in the class room for principals/administrators
After a conversation with Sabrina within the last week, I started thinking deeply about education policy in regards to state mandates on administrative certifications as well as local district requirements. Locations vary widely in requiring administrators to have a certain length of time teaching and to be deemed expert teachers before climbing the ranks of administration.
I thought about ballot initiatives, organizing, lobbying and various other means of enacting education policy to ensure that we prevent the ranks of leadership growing thicker with individuals who spent either little or no time in a classroom. As I pondered this, I remembered back a ways to a conversation with an administrator who suggested that I seek out an administrative certification program because this individual saw leadership qualities and charisma in me. I felt honored that I would be considered to have such potential, even though I had not been teaching a long time at that point. I also was confident that such a comment wasn’t being made flippantly or haphazardly. I was advised to seek out a program and to look into what the requirements were in terms of length of time teaching before becoming eligible for administrative certification. I wanted to spend more time teaching and would have felt wrong if I quickly jumped into administration and became another administrator deserving of criticism for lack of class room experience as a teacher. That seemed to be the closest flirtation I had with considering a career in administration (which in retrospect wasn’t that close).
With this experience in mind, I have sought out more information on the regulations and policies for administrative certification and advancement. The effect on leadership in school districts, especially struggling districts is of critical importance, being that far too many have foolishly embraced non-educators without experience as legitimate. Alabama as a state seems to be leading the way in some of its requirements for principals to achieve instructional mastery and leadership as teachers before becoming administrators. Historically that seems like a return to a previous era of education where there seemed to be less shortcuts and principals were considered principal teachers and instructional leaders rather than business managerial leaders. As I continued to comb through various states requirements, I found plenty of disconcerting information about alternative principal license routes for non-educators. I wasn’t surprised but still was disappointed with the cottage industry growth of programs pushing non-educators into leadership positions.
Being that I’m still seeking education on this matter, I’m hoping we can share our thoughts and provide further information on this topic. I intend on putting some more time into writing and researching this concern so we can help turn some broad ideas into some more specific initiatives and collective actions.