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Improving the Training of School Administrators

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Among the meager benefits of the, “No Child Left Behind” legislation has been the additional “training” that has been provided for practicing classroom teachers and school administrators. Additional training for classroom teachers has, deservedly, received a lot of attention because of the improved learning that it is likely to enable teachers, to facilitate for their students. Additional training for school administrators ( school principals and school superintendents and school teachers ) should also receive a lot of attention because of the improved effectiveness, with which it is likely to enable them, to operate their schools and school systems. Reportedly, some school administrators have been somewhat resistant to, and/or resentful of, mandates that they be provided with additional training.
It is understandable how some, veteran, school administrators might consider that their ages, years of experience, accumulated knowledge and authority make them needless of additional training or preparation for their jobs. Hopefully, however, these persons will realize that rapid changes in, and increased vicissitudes of, school operations make it necessary for all school personnel to get the most up-to-date preparation and training that can be provided. The need for practicing school teachers and school administrators to get continual training is, in and of itself, a monumental change that needs to be recognized and acknowledged.
The need of some practicing school administrators for improved training and preparation, in some specific areas, has escaped the notice of some persons, but is painfully evident to others. One particular area of needed improvement, in the training and preparation of school administrators, is the area of classroom teaching. This is true because the most important component of the role of school administrators is supervision of instruction. The main responsibility of school principals is to ensure that classroom teachers actually teach, and that they do it well. The main responsibility of school superintendents is to ensure that school principals actually facilitate teaching in their respective schools, and that they do it well.
It would be wonderful if all school principals had been master classroom teachers, before becoming administrators. It would be wonderful if all principals and superintendents really knew how to supervise instruction and how to assist their teachers with classroom management and instructional problems. Unfortunately, that has not ever been the reality. It is not likely to ever become the reality. Therefore, in-depth exposure and orientation to the realities of classroom teaching needs to become a main part of the training and preparation of school administrators.
School principals and superintendents who never, themselves, experience direct, classroom teaching, can never be expected to develop the expertise needed for them to accurately assess classroom teaching, or for them to assist classroom teachers. They can never be expected to ever fully understand and empathize with the concerns and challenges that beset classroom teachers. Their decisions and actions are likely to be, forever, based upon conjecture and supposition. They can never be expected to work in true harmony with the teachers whom they are expected to assist, supervise and assess.
There is at least one other area wherein improvements are needed in the training and preparation of school principals and school superintendents. In this area, too, the decisions and actions of school principals and school superintendents are prone to be marred by defective and/or presumptive evidence. This is the area of involvement and interaction with parents and/or guardians and school community persons.
It is apparent that the training and preparation of school administrators needs to be enhanced with in-depth, effective “human relations” training. It does not seem to matter whether school principals and superintendents are selected from their local school communities, or are imported from far away places, they all seem to experience great difficulty in relating to the parents/guardians of their students in ways that will motivate those persons to truly trust school personnel. Parents and others will not willingly and open-heartedly come to participate in, and assist with, school affairs on any regular basis. Observable tension, apprehension and animosity dominate most of their interactions with school personnel.
The training and preparation of school administrators will be greatly improved if school principals and school superintendents are helped to devise effective ways to promote: (1) “open-hearted” community involvement; (2) the locating, recruitment and utilization of community resources (of the human variety); (3) full, sincere community support for school efforts to educate the children of the community.
Calsue Murray

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