Principal Hotline: “Too Great a Teacher to Be an Admin?”

Base your decision on the right reasons.

Dear Principal Hotline,

My assistant principal just accepted a principal position at another school, and while I am thrilled for her new opportunity, I now have a midyear hire to do.  I’ve received some great applications for the position, some with strong prior leadership experience. However, I also have an inside candidate. One of our teachers is also applying for the role.

This young teacher  is already one of the rock stars of our school. He has strong relationships with students, is a phenomenal instructor, is loved by parents, and is someone I had pegged to be a department chair in a year or two. He is someone who inspires other teachers and is exactly the kind of person I want teaching in my school.

Is it wrong that I don’t want to move him into an AP role because I love having him in the classroom?  Am I being selfish? Honestly, he’d probably be a great assistant principal too, but I really need more teachers like him right now. Advice?

Unsure

Dear Unsure,

Start by thinking about this teacher as just another job candidate. Is he qualified? Is his résumé as competitive as those who are applying from outside? You may also want to approach this from the other side: What would you write him a letter of recommendation? Would you advocate to another principal or district that he’d be the best person for the job?

Since you were already hoping he would be a department chair, perhaps this is a serendipitous opportunity to consider him for administration.

If, everything aside, he’s clearly the wrong candidate, hiring him is not an obligation.

If you ultimately decide your teacher is not the best candidate for the job, have an honest conversation with him. Explain why you made your decision. Make sure he knows you will support his growth, helping him become fully prepared before taking his next step. If he knows you have plan which will increase his responsibility once he’s gained more experience, and he understands you believe he is talented and capable, it may alleviate residual negative feelings.

If he’s qualified, but you choose not hire him, it’s important to consider whether you want to send a message that growth within the district is not one of your priorities. Limiting a person’s professional growth because he’s too good at his current job is unfair. If he’s put time and energy into achieving the educational requirements for this position, this isn’t a whim. It’s a career choice. If he cannot grow within your district, he may seek employment where growth opportunities are readily available. In short, you may have an empty classroom anyway.

He has his own plans, his own goals, his own financial needs. You’re both human, and your agendas may not align. Your role is to run your building in a way that is most beneficial to your community as a whole.

Essentially, yes. It’s okay if you don’t promote a teacher. Just make sure you’re making that decision for the right reasons. . When you’ve decided the best course of action, remain tactful, kind, and considerate.

You’re a professional hiring vital personnel, and that’s okay. If he isn’t hired, he’s going to react how he reacts, and that’s okay, too.

Each week, our brave school leadership expert answers your toughest questions about the daily adventures and challenges we all face as we strive to make our schools great places for kids to learn. Have a question? Email it to principalhotline@schoolleadersnow.com.

Plus, check out 4 Great Strategies for Working With Assistant Principals.

Posted by Amy Lynn Tompkins

Writer, public servant, advice giver.

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