Not all teachers want to be an admin

Not all teachers want to be an administrator

Elizabeth Schley Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

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I’m unsure if it’s because I’ve been in the classroom for 17 years or if I’ve made the choice to take on leadership roles, but I am often asked, “When are you going to become an administrator?”

I always laugh. I started that certification by taking a few classes and realized it wasn’t for me. Plus, I really love being in the classroom and working with students and teachers. From my experience in the secondary setting, the administration didn’t have a whole lot of time to do that work. I realized that the general public thinks that the next step for teachers is to become an administrator.

Let me clear this up once and for all. Some teachers go on to be administrators and I think that’s amazing. However, that is not a path for everyone for a few reasons:

1. The job of an administrator is completely different than that of a teacher. And not all teachers want that path. I get to do all the great parts of my job without having to deal with the “other” stuff.

2. Being a great teacher is not only beneficial to students, but to other staff. As a teacher leader, you can reach other teachers on a different level. It’s one of the main reasons I have the job I do. I work with teachers on a level that I am not their evaluator, I am not a presence that is looking for things that are wrong, and I don’t report to administration unless it’s dire. I am a peer who is there to help them with what they want and need help in.

3. There is a multitude of teacher leadership opportunities available that keep you in the classroom. At the end of the day, I want to be able to work with students.

4.  Kids need teachers who will continue to push themselves professionally without the goal of leaving the classroom.

5. Teachers need other teachers who will model those leadership roles and professional successes.


I am grateful for all the incredible teacher leaders I have worked with who have made the choice to continue in the classroom and push themselves professionally. Those teachers have helped blaze the path for teachers like me who want to keep pushing and for students to see just how incredible their teachers can be.




I am starting my 17th year of teaching and have taught most of the social sciences in a public school setting including; 8th grade, AP Government and Politics, and dabbled in APUSH, World History, US History, and College Prep Government and Politics. I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Development and a Master's in Secondary Education, History from Northern Arizona University. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher in Social Studies/History (Early Adolescence). I write a blog for social studies teachers, Teaching AP Government, which has become a great passion of mine because I believe civic education is incredibly important to the continuance of democracy. I've been in a few articles: The Real Work Of Understanding History , Lessons on US Constitution Find New Relevance, and I write for The Standard about civic education! When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m hanging out with my two favorite people, Chris and Emma, watching The Office or Parks and Rec.

Comments 10

  1. Jen Hudson

    YES! So much of this! I feel like too often teachers are pushed into administration because it’s much easier to put someone into a new position than help people get better and support them in the position they are already in. How amazing would it be to be able to work with master teachers and coach them through a planning cycle, much like Candidate Support with NBCT?! It’d be crazy awesome. Imagine the learning and growing that could take place in our schools!

  2. Yolanda Wheelington

    Thank you for this article. I am meeting more and more teachers that do not want to take on administration duties, yet are not finding ways to advance in the classroom (fyi…after school club does not equate advancement for many teachers). In the end, they begin to consider something totally different. I often end up referring them to the AZK12 Center so they can find relief, support, like-minded peers, and growth.

    I appreciate your perspective and adding voice to this issue.

  3. Susan Collins

    I love this blog! I am in my dream position as a classroom teacher! Thank you so much for writing about the CHOICE to stay in the classroom and be a teacher leader. It is a valuable and necessary role in our schools.

  4. Caitlin Corrigan

    I completely agree with this! Teaching isn’t like other careers with promotions, so I think it is hard for nonteachers to understand. Plus, an administrator is a completely different job than being a teacher that requires additional coursework and certification. We need good teachers in the classroom, especially if that is where their passion lies!

  5. Melissa Girmscheid

    When I earned my Masters degree, “When are you going into admin?”
    When I earned National Board certification, “When are you going into admin?”
    I worked on my craft to teach, and don’t have the desire to go into administration. Thank you for calling attention to this.

  6. Nicole Wolff

    I love this! I’ve been an instructional coach for 7 years. Many people use this position as a stepping stone to admin, but I LOVE my job! I honestly think most educators do want to stay in the classroom and many leave it before they are ready. Many have to take the administration path because of financial need. If we made teaching a more financially secure profession we would see more of them stay in the classroom.

  7. Rachel Perugini

    That’s me! I see teachers getting their masters in admin so they can start transitioning out of the classroom. I think that being in the classroom is the best part of my day; can’t imagine my life if that wasn’t what I was doing.

  8. August Merz

    “The job of an administrator is completely different than that of a teacher.” Exactly. Entering the profession, I never even considered that I would ever want to be in admin and nothing in over 30 years has ever changed that. I do like having influence and status and helping at times to develop and implement policy. But the skills and tasks of administration – to say nothing of the headaches – hold no appeal for me.

  9. Jaime Festa-Daigle

    I earned my admin cert within three years of starting to teach but chose to stay in my classroom for almost 15 years. I always knew I wanted to lead, never knew in what capacity and when the time was right I knew I was ready. My time in the classroom is what has prepared me for leadership. There are so many parallels between working as an administrator and a teacher. Although I am no longer teaching from bell to bell, the meetings I run are my lesson plans and I better be prepared. I better model them as I want my teachers to model their classes. My feedback should be actionable and I need to take the time to ensure I am giving it. I am supporting leaders and learners who are in turn supporting leaders and learners. I get to spend time with kids to support them as individuals in ways I never could in a classroom of 30. The strongest administrators I know are teachers at heart and see their work as an extension of teaching. Administration is not for everyone, but the job does not have to be so different from teaching.

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