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Dr. Les Potter has over 53 years in education in the US and Egypt with 45 years in school and university administration. Currently Les is retired from full time employment but is a consultant at Core...
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Tips for Educators: Look Before You Leap

In my many years in education and school administration I have met a large number of unhappy educators. I used to tell our undergraduate teacher candidates at a college to do your research about the school and the position before you sign your contract. Look at all aspects of the school (culture and climate), location, reputation, salary, benefits, working conditions, teacher assignments and schedule, extracurricular expectations, etc. If at all possible I do not recommend settling for a position that you really do not want. I don’t believe there is any “dream” job but the pluses should outweigh the minuses. But do know what you are getting into. A number of teachers sign a less than desirable contract because they needed a job with the hope of a quick school transfer. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Transferring when and where you want may not happen when you want. What if you receive a poor evaluation, a less than sterling reference or worse fired? What are your chances of transferring than? Is your unhappiness with your assignment worth it?

There are reasons why 50% of teachers in the US leave the profession in their first five years. Regardless of your assignment always be loyal, don’t complain (stay out of the teachers’ lounge), and always do your best as the students deserve it.

This is also true for administrators. In the states, I was an assistant principal at four schools and principal of seven schools in four states and I was surprised of the number of my administrative colleagues that complained about their jobs that they applied for and accepted. The usual concerns that they didn’t realize what they were getting into. But they should have. The assistant principalship can be a stepping stone for other opportunities. This can be true but that decision may not be yours alone. You may be in that position for a long time.

I was a principal of a large high school where a man was in charge of the boys discipline for 19 years (never wanted the position but he thought it would be a short assignment) before he was transferred out of that position.

Know what administration usually involves: conflict resolution, parent involvement, after school commitment, many school policies, student achievement, personnel, school politics, the huge time involvement, etc. Do your homework as well about all of the pros and cons of the assignment. Look carefully about the administrative journey you are about to take.

As an administrator, you function under the direction of a superintendent, school board or owner. You can be transferred or promoted at any time for reasons you may not totally understand.

My advice is to be prepared and always know what your are getting into. Another piece of advice is if you accept the position is always do the very best job you can with a smile on your face until a better opportunity comes along.

Good luck!

Dr. Les Potter
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