Principals should provide relevant leadership opportunities and experiences to prepare assistant principals to be future successful campus leaders.
Experiences for assistant principals vary as the role is not always clearly defined. Many assistant principal job descriptions use terms such as “assist the principal”, “support campus programs”, and “coordinate services”.
An individual’s readiness to move into a principal position is often dependent on the responsibilities assigned and experiences gained during their stint as an assistant principal. Principals must be willing to delegate and involve assistant principals in responsibilities they will perform and oversee as a school leader.
Opportunities to lead
Many of the responsibilities assigned to assistant principals typically focus on dealing with student discipline and managerial tasks such as providing keys and instructional materials for teachers.
While these roles are essential, assistant principals also need experiences in school leadership roles such as instructional planning and oversight, budgeting, scheduling, communications, program development, and working with central office personnel. An assistant principal may not initially be ready to lead in these areas but can observe or take on small roles to develop leadership skills.
Responsibilities an assistant principal can be assigned might include:
- Organize and lead a team of teachers, such as a professional learning community, to improve instruction.
- Analyze student achievement data and develop a portion of the campus improvement plan.
- Create the campus budget for a specific area (e.g., field trips, art program).
- Develop a campus staff schedule for testing days.
- Participate in a meeting with upset parents.
- Take part in the hiring of staff.
- Participate in a meeting with a teacher to discuss a conflict.
- Collaborate with a school community group such as the PTO.
- Serve on a district committee (e.g., textbook adoption, Student Health Advisory Committee).
- Partner with the human resources department to determine the campus staffing allocations or the curriculum department to implement a new instructional program.
- Attend school board meetings.
- Participate in a community event (e.g., chamber of commerce, rotary club meeting).
Additionally, principals should value and respect assistant principals by acknowledging the different perspectives and past experiences they bring to the leadership team. Assistant principals typically come directly from the classroom and can provide input on recent instructional strategies, behavior management techniques, and the stresses teachers face.
Providing authentic leadership opportunities and experiences for an assistant principal not only helps prepare the aspiring employee to be a successful campus leader but can also greatly benefit the campus by providing additional leadership and support. More information on developing the role of the assistant principal can be found in the HRX article The Value of Assistant Principals.
Cheryl Hoover is an HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Cheryl an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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