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The Role of the School Administrator: How Does Professional Development Influence School Culture?

School administrators play a pivotal role in the educational landscape, working across various educational settings and handling many responsibilities. These responsibilities encompass, among others, financial management, staff oversight, compliance and logistical coordination.

A very critical task that school administrators shoulder is teacher support. Today’s educational landscape is characterized by teacher shortages and attrition, so the ability to retain and nurture talented educators is paramount for both school and student success.

This shortage of apt professionals is no news. According to authors Brad Olsen and Molly Curtiss Wyss from Brookings, “UNESCO estimates that nearly 69 million additional teachers will need to be recruited by 2030 for primary and secondary education alone.” Most countries are falling behind on this number, including the United States.

Olsen and Curtiss Wyss observe that the shortage is a “result from interconnected topics such as school conditions and teacher policies; status, recruitment, and demographics of teachers; retention challenges; and both preservice teacher preparation and in-service professional development contours. In many places, teaching is a low-paid profession and is treated as easy-in/easy-out, nontechnical work.”

Although it may sound distressing, one of the most effective ways school administrators can help is by supporting teachers through professional development initiatives. Graduates of an advanced degree, such as the Master of School Administration online program at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP), will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to foster teacher professional development.

What Is Professional Development?

Professional development, often called staff development, constitutes a structured process that empowers educators to enhance their skills, knowledge and teaching methodologies. They can do so through conferences, seminars and “[w]orkshops and training sessions tailored to the specific needs of teachers can be organized within the school, covering topics such as curriculum updates, teaching strategies, and classroom technology integration,” according to Strobel Education.

Why Professional Development Matters for School Culture

By championing continuous learning, tailoring development opportunities, providing resources and encouraging collaboration, administrators help create a vibrant educational environment that attracts and retains talented teachers. They contribute to positive school cultures, prioritizing excellence, student achievement and teacher well-being.

Aside from the retention crisis mentioned above, it’s also important to notice that professional development for teachers has a reach far beyond personal growth. It may help teachers meet other teachers, expand their knowledge base and acquire new skills. It has also been shown to act as a confidence booster and, as Java Robinson writes for neaToday, “This confidence will carry over into the classroom when you come back to your students and share what you learned. Showing that even you, the teacher, are constantly learning and are excited about it will energize your students for the lessons ahead.”

Quality professional development, therefore, also translates into improved teaching practices and leads to better student outcomes. Teachers who continuously refine their skills can address diverse student needs, adapt to changing educational standards and create engaging learning experiences.

Supporting Teacher Professional Development

Professional development often requires financial and logistical support. Administrators must allocate resources for teacher training and development, ensuring educators can access the tools, materials and opportunities needed to excel in their roles. Regarding professional development, it’s also worth noting that not all teachers have the same needs or goals. It’s important to collaborate with teachers and identify their individual strengths and areas where growth is desired.

Supporting teachers requires several skills ranging from interpersonal to logistics, which can be challenging. School administrators may also consider furthering their education by attending programs such as the UNCP’s Master of School Administration online program. With its dedicated courses like Supervision and Instructional Leadership, the program aims to equip future administrators with the knowledge and skills necessary to foster such a culture of growth and support in their schools.

In the evolving landscape of education, school administrators hold the key to nurturing the growth and development of both educators and students, ultimately shaping the future of our educational institutions.

Learn more about the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s online Master of School Administration program.

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