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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation



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

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Jim Peiffer's picture
Jim Peiffer
Principal, Douglas J. Regan Intermediate School, Starpoint CSD

Principals may not necessarily need experience in the classroom to be good leaders. However, such experience can serve to lend a great deal of credibility to a principal new to the position. Additionally, if a principal does not have said experience, he/she should make a point to collaborate with those who do have classroom experience during the decision making process.

Kevin Crosby's picture
Kevin Crosby
Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

Principals should have teaching experience because they need to know what it is like to be a teacher before evaluating them. Student assessment scores represent only a fraction of the picture, and data is largely unreliable when it comes to evaluation. Complex classroom dynamics can only be fully appreciated via experience.

Sarah Minnick's picture
Sarah Minnick
8-12 Social Studies cyber school teacher, Pennsylvania

In order to be a good leader, I believe that you should have an idea of the job that the people you are leading do. That's why I think it hilarious that many times you have professors in college teaching pedagogy to future teachers without having been in a K-12 classroom themselves for any length of time. Principals make decisions that trickle down and affect the people in the classroom. They should have an idea of the impact that those decisions will have. I think that to keep fresh principals should be required to have at least a semester course a year.

sue kelewae's picture
sue kelewae
Education instructor at Kent State University

Yes, the classroom is a completely different environment than the "office". By spending some years teaching, a principal cannot help but have more understanding and empathy for the teachers. Also, as above, if they are going to do any evaluating at all, they need to be in a classroom as a teacher. I strongly feel that a principal should teach at least one class/day, or serve as a substitute teacher at least one day a week so he/she can really stay current on the issues and conditions in the classrooms.

sadie's picture

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Darcie Smith's picture
Darcie Smith
Elementary school teacher from Reno, Nevada

When leading any specialized group of rank and file, you need their experience to lead wisely. Educaion is not a business. It is intuitive and qualitative. You can't understand it until you have been in the trenches yourself.

Audrey B's picture
Audrey B
High School English teacher Cromwell CT

Not only is it necessary for principals to have classroom experience, having experience with the level they are in charge of is similarly important. The classroom environment is unlike any other. To understand how a teacher works with and for students a person must have done it her/himself. Leading and therefore modelling good student interaction can only be learned with experience. Experience beyond short internships or observations.

Joe DeMeis's picture

I hope it is not totally necessary to have teaching experience before serving as a principal since I did it for 9 years having never taught. I knew much about teaching and classroom teachers due to observing in hundreds of rooms during my years as a school psychologist pre-K through 12. As a principal I grew to really appreciate the hard work associated with teaching and to this day marvel at the fortitude necessary to being a good teacher. MakingASchoolSmile.com

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