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Les Potter received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years in school administration and educational leadership including: Assistant to the Superintendent (...
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Educators - Do your homework!

I have recently retired as a school administrator after 51 plus in education.  I have been reading about a lot of new administrators who are all ready burning out, feel overwhelmed, overworked, and under compensated.  I was fortunate to have worked in more than a dozen schools and similar number of other educational positions. I worked in seven states and two countries. My point in saying this as I changed jobs, I had to thoroughly investigate each one before accepting the new assignment. 

I am recommending to every job seeker. Do your homework.  I read that a high school principal was shocked at the number of after school sports and activities that he/she was expected to attend. Yes, that is part of your job. Students, parents, and staff expect you to be there. Being a principal, especially at the secondary level is a total commitment. In my opinion, you will not be as successful unless you sacrifice a lot your personal life for the school.  Do your homework.  If you can not or do not want to devote this much time and energy to the secondary principalship, don’t accept the position. If you calculate that you made more money per hour as a teacher than you do as an administrator and are not OK with this, don’t take the job. If you are thinking about an administrative job in a new district or a challenging school, you should be very aware of the situation before you accept. If you do not like conflict, school administration is not for you. This true for teachers as well. 

I have read that educational situations are worse now than ever. I don’t think so. I started in 1970 and issues might be different now but we had serious challenges then as well. Society changes as do schools and schools are a reflection of the society.  

Becoming a teacher or school administrator is faced with incredible challenges. Know what you could be getting yourself into. Do your research. Talk with people who work in that district and school. Check social media and news articles. 

You should not be surprised as a new administrator that you will be dealing with unhappy students, parents, teachers, and maybe district leaders. The increased work load and responsibilities will come with the job as with criticism.  You need thick skin for school administration.  If you are involved with student behavior know that you are like an umpire, 50% of those effected with your decision will probably not be happy. There are a lot of pressure on school administrators. Be aware of what issues you will face. Is this something you feel comfortable with? 

Do your homework is also true for new teachers or transferring teachers. I would not recommend taking the first job available or any job unless you research the district, school and teaching assignment. Having a bad experience will make you miserable and could affect your future career. 

If you do accept a position that you are not happy with and can not change the issues, then I would suggest to change jobs. It is not fair to you, your family and school to stay. There will be better opportunities for you in the future. 

Education is a career that is very challenging and rewarding. I wish you much success.

Les Potter, Ed. D.
Retired educator