Building Capacity in Assistant Principals: Is on the job training enough?
A lot has been written about professional development for teachers over the past few years. While I am in complete agreement that teachers need continual opportunities for professional learning, I find we are overlooking one important group of educators in our PD plans. Assistant principals.
The concept of sustained professional development for administrators is not a new one. Many districts have devoted time, energy and resources to developing the skills of building principals, but they assume their principals will “get their APs ready”.
Principals, as instructional leaders, should be mentoring their APs, but I have found that many assistant principals are given managerial tasks (test administration, IEP meetings, discipline) and are never exposed to the instructional leadership side of being a building administrator.
For some APs it is up to them to seek out opportunities to develop their leadership skills. In other cases it is a collective effort between the principal and assistant principal.
In “Sharing the Secrets” Rebecca Good discusses 10 practices that can help assistant principals develop their instructional leadership skill. Many of the principle on her list may seem like common sense, but they are well worth sharing with your assistant principals is you’re interested in deepening your bench.
She writes “One reason assistant principals should make time to become strong instructional leaders is because when they are named principal is not a good time to learn instructional leadership skills.”
We know that there is an increasing need to build the capacity of our assistant principals…we need a deep bench given the growing shortage of building administrators, but leaving this solely as the responsibility of the principal is not only unreasonable, it is unwise.
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