Skip to content

Building Capacity in Assistant Principals: Is on the job training enough? (Part 2)


How deep is your bench? Assessing your assistant principals’ readiness.

As we stated in Part 1 of “Building Capacity in Assistant Principals”, it may be up to the assistant principal to seek out opportunities on their own or it can be a collective effort between a principal and their assistant.  In some districts, assistant principal development is planned by senior leadership, with very specific steps for identification and capacity building of future principals, with an eye on hiring from within the organization.

Before you can even begin to consider an assistant principal development plan you need to assess the readiness of your current APs. Don’t assume that just because someone has an administrative certification they will be able to lead a building. An excellent tool, which can be used for self reflection or adapted for use assessing your APs is the “Self-Assessment and Reflection Continuum” from DoDEA21.

The leadership team in our district began a similar process two years ago when we decided that, due to increased enrollment and the possibility of several retirements in the near future, we needed to “grown our own” future administrators.

We started the process by asking several questions:

  • If one of our principals stepped down tomorrow, would we be confident that an internal candidate could step into the role with a minimum of disruption, maintain academic excellence and continue the vision of the school district?
  • Did our assistant principals have a clear understanding of good instruction and student engagement and can they identify them in classroom observations?
  • Were our APs clear communicators that can provide feedback to teachers, have crucial conversations, and work with families, the public and the media?
  • Did our assistant principals have someone, besides their principal, with whom they could speak freely about a  variety of topics?

toolkitOnce we assessed our current situation we set about developing a succession plan. Our district was very aware of the the fast approaching need for new building leaders and as such the timeline for building the capacity of our Assistant principals we shorter than we would have liked.

An excellent resource to begin your needs assessment is the “Cultivating Leadership in Assistant Principals Toolkit” prepared by the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement. Both principal and AP can work on this together to determine where to start in developing your assistant principal’s leadership skills.

In Part 3 of “Building Capacity in Assistant Principals” we will discuss 6 Key strategies to build the capacity your current assistant principals.