Becoming a school site administrator is one of the biggest steps an educator can take in their career. Leaving the classroom for the front office is a big decision. Some teachers wait decades to make the switch, while others do it much earlier in their career. The interview process for a principal position can be intimidating, frustrating, and nerve-racking.
Here are 5 ideas to get across during your interview …
- Have a Vision
Principals need to have a vision for their school. It is important to get across where you see the school 3-5 years down the road. Be sure you communicate the why you believe that your vision is what is in the best interest of the school. Also, ensure that it makes sense given the school’s current situation. Will you be taking over a school that is in need of a drastic transformation or is the school currently running smoothly and achieving great results? Be clear and be specific.
- Know the Data
It is vital that principal candidates know the school’s data and history. In order to best map out a path of the future, you must first know where the school has been. Looking at a variety of different data points will help you get a good idea of what is working and what needs to be looked at more closely. Some ideas about data points can be found here: https://bit.ly/2C8EZhF Remember, the important information is in the details. Spend some time up front learning about the school’s subgroups.
- Be Student-Centered
A school’s primary focus is the academic achievement of students. Schools also serve as institutions where students increase their confidence, emotional intelligence, and problem solving skills. Having a student-centered approach needs to be conveyed during the interview process. In many districts, parents sit on interview panels. This particular message will be of great importance to them. Parents want to hear how the school will support their child become the best version of themselves as possible.
- Be Teacher-Centered
Great schools don’t exist without great teachers. We have all heard the phrase that people don’t leave terrible jobs, they leave terrible bosses. Teachers need to see right away that you will be their voice, advocate, and leader. If they do not feel that you have their best interests in mind, you will not be considered for future interview rounds. Teachers need to feel comfortable coming to their principal with problems, questions, and concerns. Conveying that you want to work closely with the teaching staff to ensure that their needs are met is important.
- Be Human
Education is a social industry. Teachers, parents, and students will want to see you as a human being as well as an educator. Showing your personality during the interview process is important. Be real, be authentic, and be true to yourself. The identity of the school will be come intertwined with the identity of the principal. It is important that your school is seen as a friendly, vigorous, fun, and exciting place for teachers to work and for students to learn. You can’t fake these attributes for an entire career.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.principalsdesk.org.