Sunday, March 16, 2008
posted by Q6 at 7:01 PM
Today I offer a topic for discussion and debate: the question of workplace longevity for administrators. In many districts (I've only worked for two districts in my 15 years in education, but I've heard about others), the district big shots see fit to move administrators from school site to school site every 5 years or so. The justification varies: strong administrators are needed at various sites at various times, the individual administrators need varied experience if they are to move up the ladder at some point, "things aren't working out," and so on. Recently I've been considering the alternative (and, it seems, unpopular) concept of leaving an assistant principal at a certain school site for a prolonged period of time--perhaps indefinitely. Here are the two viewpoints, as I see them, on this matter:

POSITION A: No one really goes into school administration to be an assistant principal forever, and certainly not at the same school site. As a district, we must consider what is best for the district as a whole, not just for one school site. When we discover those A.P.s with the potential to make great principals or district brass, we must make sure they get every opportunity for well-rounded experience and then move them (let's face it--this is a "stepping stone" job, anyway). Moreover, we should put those strong A.P.s at the sites where they'll do the most good while we still have them there. Where schools are in trouble, we move our greatest resources there. Finally, we must consider that where a certain A.P. is not strong, perhaps that person will fare better at another site.

POSITION B: If an Assistant Principal is strong at a certain school site, all efforts should be made to keep that person at that post--especially if that A.P. is well received by the staff, students, and parents. That person becomes a valuable cog in the machine, and changing that person brings an unnecessary risk to the function of the school. Over time, that A.P. develops perhaps not so much varied experience (especially if that school site has a unique demographic or other other factors that may not apply to other sites), but comes to possess a detailed knowledge of that particular site and, if that A.P. enjoys working there, develops a loyalty to keeping that school site running smoothly. Perhaps we should more carefully consider the idea of a "career Assistant Principal," if for no other reason than to retain the resources that work so well; it is unfair to assume that the A.P. position is a "stepping stone" if the person in that job is content to remain at that level.

Some of those in education have had administrators they couldn't wait to get rid of, and some have had administrators they couldn't stand to see leave. (My presentation here is specific to the position of Assistant Principal. I can't tell you why that is--not yet--but it is done intentionally.) One or more of the ideas listed above--or perhaps some I haven't even thought of--contribute to these arguments.

I'm curious to hear your feedback: let the debate begin.


At 12:54 AM, Blogger Mark

One thing missing from your arguments (well, okay, it's partly built into Position B) is input from the relevant employee. If I, as a manager, were to move an employee without consulting her or him, then I would not be surprised if that employee resigned within a few months.

Moving sites can have a huge impact on a person's private life, as well as his or her working life - even if the day-to-day workload and tasks are the same.

Any change as big as this, one would think, would need to be made in consultation with the particular person involved. If you want a job done well, you need more than just a person's body on site 40 hours a week, you need that person to invest his or her soul in the job as well. You won't get that, if you don't involve the employee in your decision making (even if it ends up as a "take one for the team" situation).