The education sector plays a significant role in society, and therefore it offers a wide array of exciting opportunities to advance your career.
Whether you’re considering a mid-career change or simply looking to make a greater impact on the world, you may already have what it takes to kick off a solid career in educational leadership. Here are some qualities that will make you a great fit.
You have problem-solving skills
There’s no better way to put your problem-solving skills to the test than working in education. Teachers, principals, and other NYC education jobs require you to think quickly on your feet to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, have ongoing access to a high-quality education. From developing curriculum to engaging with teachers and families, to advocating for what’s best for students, educators are involved in discerning the most important decisions that pave the way for a better educational experience.
You are strategic
If strategic preparation is your game, you could have the makings of a great teacher. The best teachers are extremely intentional: every move they make is carefully planned, starting with a study of the evidence (e.g., student work!). You create achievable but rigorous goals based on relevant data. Once you pinpoint a goal, you know how to map out a plan to get there. You understand how to clearly get from point A to point B and have the judgment to make adjustments or reroute when the time comes. You responsibly leverage results to create culturally responsive and equitable learning opportunities. When you achieve results, you can confidently back them up with evidence and envision the next best steps with a solid plan. All the while, you ensure your whole team is aligned and ready to tackle the game plan together.
You have leadership skills
No matter what role you play in education, leadership skills are crucial. The decisions you make will have a significant impact on everyone you encounter and will trickle down to students and families. If you can make executive decisions, but also understands the importance of collaborating and receiving feedback that informs those decisions, teaching could be a great career path for you. After all, education is never a one-person show. Educators bring people together and are able to cultivate and develop leadership in others. While they command the classroom, they know when to step up and when to take a step back.
You are a great communicator
Great educators are great communicators. They express ideas efficiently and effectively in a way that is accessible and reassuring to whomever they are engaged with. They actively seek to understand their audience, the people they work with and know how to connect with them in a way that is unique and personalized. They do more than talk in the room; they are great listeners who know how to implement feedback just as well as they give feedback.
You love working with people
If you love working with people, you will thrive in education. People are at the center of this work, and if people are at the center of your heart, every day in an education role will feel purposeful. Great education leaders see the best in people and help them see the best in themselves. In addition to helping students receive the best education possible, they enjoy collaborating with teammates and being involved in the community. Being able to connect with people puts educators in a unique position to build the community, which this work is all about. It is more than setting up structures to teach children; it involves looking at the bigger picture and leaving a positive impact on children’s lives as a whole as well as the community.
You want to change the world for the better
Educators are at the forefront of building up the next generation of leaders and advocating for changes in the education system. They are on the front lines of the fight for equity in education and serve as lights in the dark. They are optimistic and have a whatever-it-takes-attitude because they want to see changes that will echo into the future. They take daily steps to ensure that each day is a little better than the day before because as Oprah Winfrey said, “Doing the best at this moment put you in the best place for the next moment.”
You are organized
Working as an educational leader involves overseeing many moving parts and managing multiple tasks, outside of overlooking a group of people. If you know how to prioritize, meet deadlines, and shift gears when necessary, you will thrive as a leader in education. Schools leaders need to be prepared to adapt to last-minute changes and the unexpected (because there will be plenty of those to come). But if you have schedules and plans in place, you can efficiently deal with anything that comes your way.
You are a good learner
If you consider yourself a lifelong learner, education is for you. That’s right—great education leaders love to immerse themselves in learning new things. They have the intellectual capacity and knowledge mastery that is foundational to teaching. Their passion for delving into new subjects and ideas allows them to inspire that same curiosity and engagement in everyone around them. At the end of the day, knowledge is power, and education is a career path where a passion for learning is absolutely foundational to excelling.
You foster inclusive environments
Schools are places where students, staff, and parents feel a sense of belonging. As a leader, you are intentional about getting to know everyone you work with so you can implement practices and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and can thrive. This work is more than a job; it is an opportunity to close the achievement gap and create equitable opportunities for children. This starts with the attitude and perspective of leadership to break down barriers and propose new ways of doing things that will open up new doors for all.
You are passionate about your work
Education leaders largely influence the school culture and climate. Their energy and drive are contagious and inspire others to be the best they can, despite challenges. They believe that all children can achieve their full potential, and that starts with high expectations. They foster an environment that is both joyful and demanding, where productive struggle leads to accomplishment, not failure.
Do you have what it takes?
Overall, individuals from a variety of professions and experiences can excel in education—after all, they’re building up the next generation of businesspeople, medical professionals, engineers, artists, and more. Working in education is an opportunity to leverage your current strengths and make a real difference that lasts a lifetime.