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Do principals need to have had teaching experience to be good leaders whats your opinion?

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Comments (28)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Eric Sheninger's picture
Eric Sheninger
Principal at New Milford High School

I believe it is necessary as having prior experience as a teacher greatly assists in making difficult decisions that impact staff as a whole. It is totally different basing a decision on research and pedagogical techniques that one has read about as opposed to actually being a practitioner.

Thom Loomis's picture
Thom Loomis
Principal of Gibsonburg High School

It is important to have classroom teaching experience. Knowing the dynamics of how teachers relate to students as well as the different ways adults work with each other is very helpful.

PJ Caposey's picture
PJ Caposey
Principal of Oregon High School, Oregon, IL

Approaching this debate from a Superintendent perspective I would prefer a candidate with teaching experience, but am of the belief somebody could be a great success without teaching experience. A great coach does not need to have played the game, but needs to fully understand and appreciate the complexitites that exist within. That being said, many of my strengths as an instructional leader exist now because of failures that I have experienced in the past. To move from outside of the classroom toward being a successful BUILDING-LEVEL administrator is possible, it is just makes an extremely difficult job even moreso.

Principal G's picture
Principal G
Elementary School Principal

I think a principal needs to have experience teaching before s/he can be an effective educational administrator. It provides credibility with teachers, students, and parents. It also helps to support teachers with suggestions to use in the classroom that the principal actually experienced. There is a huge difference between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. When giving recommendations to a teacher, a principal who has never taught is at a big disadvantage as s/he will only give suggestions read somewhere, whereas practical application is totally different. A principal should be an instructional leader above all and without a strong instructional background, the principal will only manage the school and not be able to create sustained instructional improvements.

Laura L. Sagan's picture
Laura L. Sagan
college professor

Principals should never forget what it is like to be a teacher; teachers should never forget what it is like to be a student. Principals are more than managers. As Instructional Leaders we must know how to plan and organize a lesson, and then recognize specific teacher behaviors that improve student achievement. In order to effectively observe and then offer strategies for improvement, a principal must be able to use their knowledge, expertise, and experience to be a resource and support system for their teachers.

Lori Cullen's picture
Lori Cullen
Consultant - Teacher Recruitment at Calgary Board of Education

If you believe that your primary role as a principal is as an Instructional Leader, I think it would be almost impossible to fulfill without having spent many years in the classroom yourself. My teachers are my students. If I had never been a teacher, I would have no experience to fall back on.

jlmorehouse's picture
Year 1 & 2 and Japanese teacher

To be a good leader requires a clearly defined set of skills and attributes, which may be found in experienced educators or in those coming from outside the world of education. However, I believe the difference could be in the focus of the leader. I believe those who have dedicated themselves to working with students (and that may not necessarily be as a teacher), would be more focussed on making decisions with the student in mind and have a base of experience in knowing what works with students and what negatively impacts learning, whereas a leader without that focus may be a great leader, but not necessarily the best for the student.

elateacher123's picture

Having been an administrator for a number of years and then making the choice to reenter the classroom, I now know that teaching experience is critical to building reflective conversation. I began to realize how far I had become removed from the action of teaching (and this was with daily walk thought). The closer you are to the classroom, the better the conversation. I also have to ask this question, classrooms are about teaching children. Do we dishonor this when we say that you don't need this experience in order to evaluate. Do we devalue teaching of children when we say our leadership doesn't need this experience? What do we value? What is in the best interest of children?

Ann Danella's picture

I think it's very important that they have some experience in the classroom. It ads to their credibility among their peers and subordinates. Ideally I think they should have experience at multiple grade levels and be familiar with the curriculum requirements and how to implement them in the classroom. Understanding child development at multiple grade levels is important for knowing if teachers or parents are having reasonable expectations.

Abigayil Koss's picture
Abigayil Koss
Head of School

There is no doubt in my mind that a good principal must teach before being a principal. There are a million reasons for this that I won't go into detail about right now, but I believe full heartedly that it is a must!

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