Induction of the new school administrator


As future educators move into campus administration, a strong induction program is essential to help them grow as leaders and thrive in their new role.

The good start

New directors are eager and excited to begin their leadership careers. Courses were taken, certifications obtained, and everyone worked hard to gain experience to develop as a school leader. The path to administration is a steep climb for many educators, but school districts can ensure success by providing strategic support and leadership development.

Onboarding strategies such as orientation, onboarding, mentoring, and differentiated professional development are key to growing directors in the role. When districts focus on developing new school leaders, they start the job right, which benefits the campus and the organization.

The importance of initiation

The purpose of onboarding is to ensure that new employees are integrated into the organization as part of their new role. In school districts, new administrators are often hired and begin their role without much guidance and support. School districts tend to focus on supporting teachers and may overlook the importance of providing strong support to new school leaders.

Induction is essential for all employees, but for school leaders it is essential for leadership development and job retention. The impact of campus administrators on the organization is widespread and they must have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. A strong director onboarding program can provide training, support, and guidance that will help new leaders succeed from day one.

Support frame

The elements of a strong onboarding program for new directors reflect good human resource practices for hiring new employees. A program will include orientation, onboarding, and ongoing support and mentoring. How a school district views the onboarding process depends on organizational goals and objectives, as well as how the district values ​​growth for its campus administrators.

A solid integration program will be built as a support framework. The focus on key areas of leadership development and the transition from educator to campus administrator will create a curriculum design relevant to the new leader. Tangible milestones and milestones should be included, as well as activities where new leaders can become more connected to their campus and the organization. Engaging the new leader on hot topics helps them connect to the flow of the school year on a campus, and it helps them manage the myriad of tasks and responsibilities in their new role.

A sample framework for a new director orientation program might include the following:

  • Orientation: Ideal for employees new to the district and for those new to the position. This step should focus on the most important things to cover before the first day of work, such as the schedule, tasks, and expectations. For those new to the district, topics may need to address new employee orientation, benefits, technology, and getting to know the district.
  • Integration: Onboarding is the overall process designed to support the new administrator through the first year and beyond. The goal of onboarding is to ensure that all new directors have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the role. The process should be designed with relevant topics and planned for at least one year. Ideally, onboarding continues beyond the induction year to help leaders grow in their role over time.
  • Mentoring: New directors should be assigned a mentor to guide them in their new role. Often the campus director is assigned to this role, but it is very beneficial for new administrators to have access to a veteran district administrator who is designated to be an objective, non-evaluative resource for the job. A great deal of research indicates that mentoring is a powerful tool for leadership development. This is often an overlooked resource for new administrators.
  • Professional development: All directors can benefit from ongoing training and development. The new administrator benefits most when the training required by the district is relevant and timely for the position. By providing an onboarding and induction program designed specifically for new directors, districts demonstrate how much they value the development of new directors while building the organization’s leadership pipeline.

The key to creating a supportive framework for new directors is to recognize that, although academically trained for the role, many new directors have limited leadership experience. Districts can leverage this knowledge and optimize their induction programs to provide rich training and development that will help new school leaders succeed on campus and in their role.

Curriculum Development Ideas

An induction program for new administrators can be very different from district to district due to the size of the district, its values, and how it recruits and trains new principals. The important thing is to create an induction program that addresses the key areas needed to succeed in the role of campus administrator.

Some topic ideas for new school administrator induction programs might include:

  • welcome to work
  • Overview of the first year and beyond
  • Organizational leadership and district resources, including the use of technology
  • District/campus goals and strategic plans
  • Management of time
  • Efficient Hiring Processes
  • Certification Management
  • Campus administrator assessments (T-PESS or local assessment)
  • Instructional leadership and teacher assessments (T-TESS or local assessment)
  • Evaluation and Accountability
  • Build relationships with students
  • Equity in education
  • Personal growth and self-care
  • Reflection and Feedback

Districts should consider creating a development program for administrators that aligns with superintendent standards and helps the new school leader become the best version of a school leader. Stepping into a leadership role is a new journey in education, and how the district supports these new leaders is critical to their continued success.

Departmental commitment

The process of creating a meaningful induction program for new directors doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Districts can start small and access external resources to help provide training and development as needed. By allocating resources to support the development of new administrators, districts demonstrate their commitment to the leadership pipeline and those hired to lead in their schools.


Jennifer Barton is a human resources and compensation consultant at TASB HR Services. Email Jennifer at [email protected].


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Tagged: Recruitment, HR, “Professional Development”, Retention

Martha K. Merrill