[1985, revised 1994, 1996, 2004, 2016]
No administrative function can succeed without a sense
of purpose. While the school has been and continues to be subject to competing
demands, its primary purpose is to provide educational benefits to students.
This rationale forms the basis for administrative activity, for the
organization of the structures, roles and processes required to realize the
potential of every child within the various educational settings of Alberta’s
public education system.
The Profession’s Vision
The teaching profession has been consistent in its
historic espousal of a model of school administration wherein decisions related
to the learning needs of students are formulated on a collegial basis. This
emphasis on teamwork, on cooperation between professionals, on the free flow of
information among all those concerned with the welfare of children is derived
from both the experience of the profession and the vision of the school where
the unique needs of each child can be best met by informed practitioners.
The Role of the School Administrator
School administrative structures and processes are the
product of a complex interplay of legislative, regulatory and policy dictates
on the one hand, and social, community and interpersonal forces on the other.
This mix of the formal and informal is ongoing and virtually guarantees that no
single administrative style will satisfy constant change. It is for this
precise reason that all administrative decisions require a sophisticated
knowledge of the mandatory and the permissive with the ability to build
consensus around the best approach to educational need. In that the focus of
our society’s expectations for education is placed on the school, and that
provincial responsibility for education expresses itself most clearly by
defining the role of that institution, the administrative function therein takes
up considerable prominence within the legislative framework. The teaching
profession recognizes this fact and enunciates a role for the school
administrator: the principal and others most directly involved in working with
students and teachers. These role descriptors, expressed through policy, are
the product of consultation, deliberation and debate within the profession. Key
to the function of the school administrator is the facilitation of teaching and
learning through the performance of several roles. These include educational
leadership or the capacity to bring about shared vision; collaborative decision
making ability; managerial skill; advocacy capability; and intraprofessional
The educational leadership role, grounded
on beliefs and values, expresses itself in the articulation of a direction for
the school through staff and community involvement. It is the role that helps
staff and students prepare for the future. It is in this role that
instructional leadership is most prominent through the assurance of quality
teaching, the development of a climate conducive to student learning and the
fostering of staff development. The collaborative decision-making role, wherein
the school administrator encourages and develops shared leadership and shared
responsibility, requires a number of skills in the areas of facilitating, team
building, problem solving, leadership development and the empowerment of
others. The management of resources, both human and capital, is a role
demanding time and skill that can often be best devoted to other administrative
functions. It is in this role that bureaucratic procedures can become excessive
and distort genuine efforts to improve situations. The keys to this role are
balance and efficiency. Advocacy for the school and public education in the
community suggests the abilities to communicate, mediate and resolve conflict.
In this role school administrators must be sensitive to political, economic,
social and cultural issues which may motivate demands on the school.
Preparation for the Role of the School
The Alberta Teachers’ Association has a
responsibility, in collaboration with others, to determine appropriate
preparation and ongoing professional development programs for school
administrators. The Alberta Teachers’ Association believes that
mentorship programs that assist teachers and school administrators new to their
role should exhibit the following characteristics:
designed for professional growth.
ongoing rather than short term.
appropriately funded to provide participant release time.
based on current research and best practices.
allowed to constitute the participants’ professional growth plan.
voluntary rather than compulsory.
sponsored in collaboration with the Association.
The Association role in preparation and
ongoing professional development programs for school administration is
essential to ensure that the professional perspective of teachers continues to
be a foundation for school leadership and the collegial nature of the role
permeates the work of school leaders.
The Collegial Role
Collaboration is the theme of the
collegial role, that in which school administrators and teachers work together
to provide an educational culture conducive to student learning and teacher professional
growth. Among the characteristics of a collegial environment is the recognition
by administrators that all professional educators have rights and
responsibilities and that administrative tasks are an inherent feature of all
professional roles in a school, that the degree of shared responsibility is
considerable. Decisions about a school’s educational philosophy and objectives
and the deployment of staff and resources to realize those objectives are of
fundamental importance to the success of schools and must be established by an
inclusive process in which the collective voice of all professionals is valued.
This mode of decision making also encompasses those major features of a
school’s operation, such as its program offerings, instructional modes,
resource allocations, technology use, student policy and evaluation systems for
program, staff and students. Teachers can reasonably expect that a collegial
approach will guide any decision having to do with their personal professional
responsibilities in a school as well as those of their colleagues. It is within
the collegial role in a unified profession that the Association can best take
action to protect the role of the administrator as an educational leader who
facilitates teaching and learning.
School and Community
School administration increasingly involves
responsibilities beyond the student body and professional staff. School
councils, health and social agencies, and police and other authorities also
have mandates with respect to the educational and other needs of students.
Volunteers also provide important services. These and other interactions
between school and community take place at numerous points and in various ways.
It is imperative, therefore, that school administrators have the authority to
speak on behalf of their schools on matters of policy and the right to be
included in all district decision making having to do with community liaison.
The intensity of their responsibilities requires that principals, in
particular, focus their attention on a single school building rather than on
multiple structures dispersed throughout various communities.
Governance and School Administration
Historically, governance of the public education
system has been acknowledged as a provincial responsibility wherein local need
was met through jurisdictional structures. Debates over centralization and
decentralization generally involved provincial and school board roles and
responsibilities, the assumption being that any devolution of senior government
power to local authorities remained strictly within the decision-making
authority of the latter. Bureaucratic models dominated resource allocation with
little flexibility to meet the needs of individual schools. Within this
framework, school-based professionals were incapable of making substantive
resource allocation decisions. Much has changed. The consolidation of most
Alberta school boards, the centralization of property tax distribution, the
policy driven encouragement of school-based resource allocation, the limitation
on jurisdiction level administrative growth, the legislated broadening of the
principal’s role and the expansion of the role of school councils have shifted
the focus of public attention to schools. There is, as well, a heightened
expectation of performance driven by a provincial government emphasis on
accountability. None of these changes, however, diminish the province’s
responsibility to provide proper funding and to assure that school boards have
the capacity to support the program needs of their schools. Administrative
processes are not a substitute for adequacy but a means of realizing valid
social objectives in a well-resourced education system.