Are you ready to take the next step in your educational career? If you have a vision for your school, you can become a principal. Your talents are needed: according to ASCD, a professional organization for principals and curriculum supervisors, many states and school districts are seeing a serious drop in qualified principal candidates just as a wave of baby-boomer retirements is causing vacancies.i
To qualify as a principal, you’ll need several years of demonstrable classroom experience and, in many cases, a master’s degree in educational leadership. Earning your M.Ed. in Educational Leadership teaches a range of fundamental skills designed to help you take the step from the classroom to the principal’s office—or into district-level administration. In this article, we look at five key areas developed in an education leadership degree program.
School Management Skills
As a classroom teacher, you’re in charge of your students’ instructional program. As a principal or district administrator, you’ll be in charge of the overall instructional program for the school, as well as discipline, community outreach, and staffing. In an education leadership master’s program, you’ll learn management skills similar to those found in business degree programs:
- Finance and accounting, including grant writing and fundraising;
- Human resource management – hiring, training, motivating, and tracking performance of faculty and staff at all levels;
- Management information systems
- Public relations skills
These skills will help you develop the executive decision-making capabilities you need to lead an entire school effectively.
How to Build Systems for Success
As a principal, you can’t run around trying to fix everyone’s problems. You’ll need to establish systems that encourage the behaviors necessary for success. You’ll also need to motivate parents, teachers, and students to engage with these systems.
Your educational leadership degree program will offer you the opportunity to study instructional and behavioral management systems that work for other schools and organizations. Then, you should undertake an internship with a mentor principal who can help you see how systems are established in practice.
Community Building Beyond the Classroom
As a teacher, you’ll know that partnerships between the classroom and the home help support student achievement. As a principal, you’ll need to nurture partnerships with the entire community to support a successful learning environment for your school. An educational leadership degree will help you explore how to engage businesses, local organizations, and community leaders in productive partnerships that enhance and extend the educational experience for your students.
Research and Analysis Skills
Research and quantitative analysis play a major role in many master’s degree programs, and an educational leadership degree is no exception. Learning professional research skills will help you evaluate new trends in education more critically, and developing statistical analysis skills can greatly enhance your ability to make informed decisions.
Using Technology Productively
Today’s education master’s degrees can’t ignore technology. The proliferation of computer information systems, smartboards, online course modules, and online grade tracking software can lead to a confusing melange of conflicting systems within a school if principals and district administrators don’t develop a system to work within.
Your educational leadership degree will help you understand how to research, choose, and implement new technology solutions for your entire school in a way that makes sense for your faculty and students. In addition, you’ll look at how to adopt instructional technology in a way that enhances students’ capabilities without making them dependent on it.