Who Wants to be the Next K12 Leader? Who Wants to be the Next K12 Leader?

Who Wants to be the Next K12 Leader?

Erin Werra Erin Werra Edtech Thought Leader
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There are few tasks more sacred to a leader than creating more leaders to follow in their footsteps.

While K12 weathers a drought in candidates, leaders are still keeping their eyes peeled for shining stars. Who are the next K12 leaders? A handful of clues lead the way.


Leaders vs. managers

Managers wrangle tasks. Leaders wrangle people.

Of course, tasks are always part of a leader’s mental load, just as training new hires can be part of a manager’s day. Leadership development focuses on coaching and nurturing the growth of individuals. Instead of shuffling tasks, you’re mentoring the next generation of employees and leaders. 

This is one of the red flags spooking high-performers away from taking the plunge into leadership, so it’s important a newcomer’s foray into leadership doesn’t devolve into a new set of tasks to manage.

Power vs. purpose

Why has the classroom-to-district-office pipeline slowed? Motivations have changed. 

Time has shifted the spotlight away from bulking up resumes and toward finding a purpose-driven career. This means K12 leaders are likely to populate more classrooms than conference rooms. 

As we know, purpose is the key motivator behind the scenes as well as in front of students. Demonstrating that is sometimes a little more nuanced. The best way to emphasize that power and purpose can coexist naturally is to live your district’s vision and mission. While leaders sometimes need to move on from the classroom, they never have to lose their sense of purpose: to make a difference in a student’s life.

Homegrown vs. external

Of course, it sounds dreamy to find every leader you need among your existing employee ranks. However, this isn’t always healthy for a growing district. 

New people bring new ways of doing things, new perspectives, and valuable insight. When it comes to choosing a new leader, from superintendent to principal, external candidates may breathe new life into a leadership position.

However, internal hires already know the culture, the goals, and the people. Whether they can be spared from their current position is another story, but consider: if you pass over the current employee’s growth, the grass starts to look even greener on the next campus over.

Now vs. later

Diving a little deeper into the homegrown internal hires, how is growth handled in your professional development plans? Is it understood that as a teacher or staff member’s educational experience and knowledge grow, so can their position (and earning potential)?

If career progression is a mystery, it’s hard to stay determined and focused on growth. Transparency in possible growth trajectories helps clear up confusion and keeps employees focused on their growth within the district.

Demographic considerations

Now more than ever students are looking for people who represent themselves. Students of color are looking for educators and administrators of color. The more leaders of different and diverse backgrounds, the better.

This goes for both students and fellow staff members. The more different lived experiences represented, the stronger the culture.

As you embark on a new school year, keep your eyes peeled: the next generation of leaders is already walking your halls.


Erin Werra Erin Werra Edtech Thought Leader
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