What Do Vice Principals Do?

Vice principals are a key component to productive learning environments.
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The vice principal – you might also call her the assistant principal – supports the school's head principal with her daily administrative tasks. There may be more than one vice principal, depending on the size and needs of the school, and they all work together to ensure smooth school operations. It’s a critical role that requires patience, tenacity, people skills and strong multitasking abilities.

Administrative Responsibilities

    When you are the VP, the principal may assign you to oversee a specific section of the school, such as the vocational program or the math and science department. You would evaluate the needs of your section and work with the principal to devise instructional strategies within the school's budget, including the selection of learning materials. You also might have to schedule classes, handle maintenance, order supplies and crank out performance reports for the principal. Also, you had better be familiar with the principal's duties; when she's absent, it's your show.

Education Supervisor Duties

    You'll recruit and place new teachers, helping them get acquainted with the department and the school. You’ll supervise all staff under your section, allocate duties to them, promote best teaching practices and effect disciplinary action when needed. If one of your teachers is absent, you would report the situation to the principal and find a suitable substitute. In addition, you’ll transmit all memos, bulletins and instructions from the principal's office to your staff members each day.

Relationships with Students

    It's almost a stereotype; the vice principal is the school's disciplinarian. You typically will have to document, report and enforce all punitive measures, from detentions to suspensions to expulsions. Along with the principal, you’ll oversee the placement of students in alternative programs. In the worst cases, you might even work with the courts to make sure children who have been incarcerated continue to get educations. In regular day-to-day routines, you'll oversee classroom conduct throughout the school day. In some schools, you might even supervise special events, like field trips or guest speakers.

Interaction with Parents

    Many times, your role as vice principal includes corresponding with parents about the great things --- and not so great things -- their children are up to. That might include mediating after-school teacher-parent meetings. Good lines of communication keep parents involved in their child's progress. You’ll provide key information such as satisfaction surveys, attendance records, or the results of critical exams and achievement tests. You may also work with the principal to publish a newsletter that informs parents of student activities, grade requirements or changes to school policy.

Job Requirements

    Most VPs start their careers as teachers and are required to have a master's degree in education administration or educational leadership. Several states would also require you to be licensed as a school administrator or assistant principal if you were working in the public school system. This certification program usually requires you to complete a state licensing exam and some practical work in the field under the supervision of a mentor.

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