As aspiring educators transition to campus administration, a strong induction program is key to helping them grow as leaders and thrive in their new roles.
The right start
New administrators are eager and excited to begin their leadership career. Classes have been taken, certifications obtained, and each one has worked hard to gain experiences to develop them as school leaders. The journey into administration is a steep climb for many educators, but school districts can ensure success by providing strategic support and leadership development.
Induction strategies such as orientation, onboarding, mentorship, and differentiated professional development are key to growing administrators in the job. When districts focus on developing new school leaders, they start the job correctly which benefits the campus and the organization.
The importance of induction
The purpose of induction is to ensure new employees are integrated into the organization within the scope of their new role. In school districts, new administrators are often hired and begin their role without much guidance and support. School districts tend to focus on teacher support and may forget the importance of providing strong supports to new school leaders.
Induction is critical for all employees, but for school leaders, it is key for leadership development and retention in the job. The impact campus administrators have in the organization is widespread, and they must have the knowledge and skills to succeed. A strong administrator induction program can provide training, support, and guidance that will help new leaders succeed as soon as day one on the job.
Framework of support
Elements of a strong induction program for new administrators mirror good human resources practices for hiring new employees. A program will include orientation, onboarding, and ongoing support and mentorship. How a school district designs the induction process is dependent on organizational goals and objectives, as well as how the district values growth for their campus administrators.
A strong induction program will be built as a framework of support. A focus on key areas of leadership development and the transition from educator into campus administrator will create a design for the program that is relevant to the new leader. Tangible steps and milestones should be included, as well as activities where new leaders can become more connected to their campus and to the organization. Engaging the new leader in timely topics helps them connect to the flow of the school year on a campus, and it helps them manage the myriad of duties and responsibilities in their new role.
A sample framework for a new administrator induction program could include the following:
- Orientation: Ideal for employees new to the district and for those new to the role. This step should focus on the most important items to be covered prior to the first day on the job such as the schedule, job duties, and expectations. For those individuals newly hired to the district, topics may need to address new employee orientation, benefits, technology, and getting to know the district.
- Onboarding: Onboarding is the overarching process designed to support the new administrator in year one and beyond. The goal of onboarding is to ensure all new administrators have the knowledge and skills for success in the role. The process should be designed with relevant topics and provided for at least one year. Ideally, onboarding continues beyond the initiation year to help leaders grow in their role over time.
- Mentorship: New administrators should be assigned a mentor to guide them in their new role. Often, the campus principal is assigned to this role, but there is great benefit in new administrators having access to a veteran administrator in the district who is designated to be an objective and non-evaluative resource for the job. There is a vast amount of research that indicates mentorship is a powerful tool for leadership development. This is often an overlooked resource for new administrators.
- Professional development: All administrators can benefit from ongoing training and development. The new administrator benefits most when district-required training is relevant and timely to the job. By providing an onboarding and induction program designed specifically for new administrators, districts demonstrate how they value new administrator development as they grow the leadership pipeline for the organization.
The key for creating a framework of support for new administrators is to recognize that, while trained academically for the role, many new administrators have limited leadership experience. Districts can leverage this knowledge and optimize their induction programs to provide rich training and development that will help new school leaders find success at their campus and in their role.
Program development ideas
An induction program for new administrators can look very different from district to district because of district size, values, and how they hire and train new school leaders. The important take-away is to create an induction program that addresses key areas needed for success in the campus administrator role.
Some topic ideas for new school administrator induction programs could include:
- Welcome to the job
- Overview of year one and beyond
- Organizational leadership and district resources, including technology use
- District/campus goals and strategic plans
- Time management
- Effective hiring processes
- Certification management
- Campus administrator evaluations (T-PESS or local evaluation)
- Instructional leadership and teacher evaluations (T-TESS or local evaluation)
- Assessment and accountability
- Connecting with students
- Equity in education
- Personal growth and self-care
- Reflection and feedback
Districts should consider creating a program of development for administrators that aligns with the principal standards and helps the new school leader become the best version of a school leader. Stepping into a leadership role is a new journey in education, and how the district supports these new leaders is pivotal to their continued success.
The process of creating a meaningful induction program for new administrators does not have to be overwhelming. Districts can start small and access outside resources to help provide training and development when appropriate. By allocating resources to support the development of new administrators, districts demonstrate their commitment to the leadership pipeline and the individuals hired to lead in their schools.
Jennifer Barton is an HR and compensation consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Jennifer an email at email@example.com.
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