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Reforming the Role of Assistant Principal to Reflect Its Importance

Reforming the Role of Assistant Principal to Reflect its Importance

A majority of principals have worked their way up from their previous role as the assistant, and those that haven't yet typically desire to move into the role. The principal has the important duty of improving schools and leading the best and brightest teachers, but in order to best do so, the role of the assistant principal must be fixed, says NPR contributor Steve Drummond.

Drummond, who previously student taught in a middle school, explains that he thought the assistant principal job was the toughest job in the entire school, if not in education in general.

He says in his experience, assistant principals were a mix between "traffic cop and county judge," spending the school day dealing with discipline ranging from mild to severe with little time in between to do much else.

Doug Anthony, the associate superintendent for talent management with the Prince George's County, Md., schools, told Drummond that a good school balances the assistant principal's work load. Whereas some schools will allow for the assistant principal to perform the unpleasant tasks, a good one will balance the work to create a strong and adequately prepared future leader.

"Sure, he says, there's the daily grunt work of running any school. But good schools and good school leaders find ways of sharing and spreading that work. And focusing on what really matters"

"The assistant principal has an opportunity to learn and grow in context. And get a certain level of coverage and freedom from the principal."

In order to get assistant principals started in shaping the development of teachers, Drummond says that many high schools will assign the assistant principal to a grade level or department to work closely with teachers there. This helps create strong leaders out of the assistant principals and help them avoid stagnating with too much mundane and busy work.

Drummond notes that, of course, some assistant principals aren't cut out to be principal and some do no want the responsibility.

But, "[m]any, the numbers show, do want to move up. In the six districts in the Wallace project, 84 percent of principals got there by being assistant principals. And so, the things they learn as assistant principal today will inform their work as the leaders of schools tomorrow."

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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