Assistant principals are a crucial, but sometimes overlooked, part of a well-run school. They take on a variety of important duties that often leave them little time to talk to colleagues and share ideas. NASSP’s Leadership Network for Assistant Principals is designed to help connect APs across the country, who experience many of the same challenges and concerns, regardless of their school’s size or demographics.
In this post, co-facilitators Julie Kasper and Brad Seamer discuss the Leadership Network and their hope that it can bring together APs and provide them with support and practical resources.
Julie: If there was a takeaway from our first meeting in January, it was that assistant principals are so busy that we don’t often take time to check in with each other, much less have that self-reflective down time. We’re responding to parents, addressing students, supporting teachers, and all of that.
Brad: It can be a lonely job. I think people who are participating in the network appreciate visiting with other assistant principals, and they realize they’re dealing with the same issues and the same problems. They see there’s support out there for them.
Julie: A strong administrator is someone who casts a wide net in terms of the networks they involve themselves with and commit themselves to. I feel like the more we beg, borrow, and steal as we share with each other, the more that helps build capacity in our roles as assistant principals.
Brad: Most of the members in our network are on the younger side, just starting their administrative careers, so they’re hungry for all the resources they can get to be successful. Many of them are also looking to move up so this can be an opportunity for them to strategize and learn how they can progress in their districts.
Julie: From our first meeting in January, it was evident that people want to be able to share ideas without over-programming our agendas. Our assistant principals really want to meet and talk as opposed to sit and get. They made it clear that they wanted to focus on mental health issues—for students as well as staff—so we brought in an outside speaker in February. And at our most recent meeting in March, we focused on student escapism—behaviors we are seeing as students push back against the idea of schedule and structure, like frequent tardiness, avoiding work, and extended absences.
Brad: We try to identify problems that we all see and then share different examples of how we’ve dealt with them in our schools. A couple of future topics might include staffing issues and shortages, and scheduling in different ways to help students be successful.
Julie: I’m really excited about this network. I’m committed to state and national organizations so I love that this is an opportunity where I can give back to my fellow assistant principals. Any time I can involve myself in a group that will help me grow, that will help me network, and that will help me work with others, that’s a win-win for me. I love bringing new ideas back to my school and to my district.