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What motivates teachers to leave the classroom and enter an educational leadership program in pursuit of administrative credentialing? This study revealed several discrete themes based on a text-driven content analysis of 83 student writing journals. Leadership skills/experiences, internal and external motivations are discussed. Implications for leader preparation/recruitment are presented.

In addition to published in the Connexions Content Commons, this manuscript is catalogued in the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) database providing a comprehensive, easy-to-use, searchable Internet-based bibliographic and full text database for education research and information for educators, researchers, and the general public. (California Association of Professors of Educational Administration/U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences Contract No. ED-04-CO-0005)

About the author

Leigh Barton is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at California State University, Fullerton.

When I told my colleagues that I was going to get my master’s degree in educational leadership, one replied, ‘So you’re going over to the dark side.’ Anonymous, administrative credential student, 2008.


Deciding to move from the classroom to the front office involves a great deal of thought; after all, some teachers view such a move as going over to the dark side while others consider it moving into the light . Having spent more than half of my career in public school leadership positions, I never considered the move from classroom teacher to school leader would be considered a move to the dark side . But after listening to aspiring school leaders describe their personal motivations to lead schools, my curiosity was piqued. What motivates teachers to enroll in educational leadership/administrative credential programs? What motivates them to leave their classrooms aspiring leadership positions? Are they abandoning their chosen profession of teaching in considering a move to the dark side, or are they called into the light by external forces?

When I first explained my practice of using student writing journals in all of my classes, a colleague suggested a very interesting prompt for the first class of the first course in our masters level, administrative credential program in educational leadership – Why me? Why now? Its use has revealed a great deal about the students entering this program and has afforded an opportunity to study their motivations, interests and concerns. But more importantly, the responses offered a first-hand look into how our curriculum could and should serve the needs of our students, as well as how to better recruit students into the program.

Our program is a graduate-level, Tier I administrative credential program in a large comprehensive four-year university in southern California and serves teachers who aspire to be educational leaders. During a four-year period, from 2007 to 2010, over 200 program completers responded to an online, end-of-program survey in which they reported their post-program aspirations. When asked their ultimate professional goal in the field of education, half of them wanted to become assistant principals or principals; an additional 10% aspired to be assistant superintendents or superintendents, while 32% wanted to become district administrators. Among this group only 8% reported wanting to stay in the classroom as teachers. The question remains - if students enter the program aspiring to school leadership and leave the program with professional goals to become leaders, how do we better address the content of the program to prepare them for leadership positions? And how can we use this information to recruit future aspirants?

Questions & Answers

Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
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The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
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Source:  OpenStax, Educational leadership and administration: teaching and program development, volume 23, 2011. OpenStax CNX. Sep 08, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11358/1.4
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