On-the-Job Training for Administrators

By Matt Hopkins

Very little can prepare you for the rigors of becoming a school leader. My background -- I grew up on a dairy farm in the western end of New York state -- comes close.

Early in my life, I learned the value of working 70 to 80 hours per week. In my rural neighborhood, we grew up appreciating honesty and integrity and treating others with respect and kindness.

My career as a high school business teacher spanned 13 years and came after a brief career in the finance world. Throughout my years as a teacher, I gained valuable experience as a coach, mentor, and union president while serving on many committees. In the education community, leadership opportunities are abundant, and most teachers who aspire to administrative jobs take advantage.

The educational administration program I chose has proven to be very valuable. I was fortunate to find one where I stayed with a cohort of 20 educators. For two years, we spent Saturdays together in a school library, debating educational philosophy, theories, practical techniques, and educational best practices. I developed a close network of friends and colleagues I would probably not have known otherwise.

However, none of my work-related experiences, education, or rearing really prepared me for what I encountered during my first 10 weeks as an administrator. 

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