According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 56 million students are enrolled in elementary or secondary schools across the United States. The responsibility for these millions of students not only falls to their teachers, but on their school administrators as well. Ensuring all of these students receive a high quality education depends largely on effective resource management.
What Is Effective Resource Management?
Effective resource management is one of the most important responsibilities of school administrators. After public schools receive funding from state and federal governments, they must allocate those resources to fund programs and other school necessities. Effective management of human and capital resources is a critically important responsibility. School administrators not only need to make the most of potentially scarce resources, but also align their resource management strategy with the mission and vision of the whole school community.
This is particularly challenging considering the increasingly diverse nature of US schools. Students bring a wide array of cultural backgrounds to the classroom, as well as their own unique learning needs. For example, students who are English language learners may need additional language support, while students with disabilities may need teachers who have specialized training. Some students’ families may be able to afford after-school tutoring, while others may need additional support from their school to meet and exceed educational benchmarks. To successfully address these needs, school administrators must find ways to provide necessary resources to all students.
How School Administrators Can Improve Student Learning
The process of effective resource management begins when administrators assess their schools to identify what resources their students and teachers need, and ends when they make the necessary resources available. Throughout the process, they must consider many potential areas of investment, from teacher hiring to instructional materials to technological tools. The following steps can help school administrators evaluate these considerations and allocate resources where they will have the greatest impact.
Ask Questions and Identify Goals
School administrators can begin the process of effective resource management by first asking, What are my educational goals for my school? Determining these goals will allow administrators to focus their attention on specific areas of need. It may be beneficial to examine a school’s current resource pool to determine if any existing resources can be reallocated to better support student and teacher needs.
While school administrators are responsible for setting a strategic vision for the school, they cannot do so without input from teachers. Asking for teachers to share their priorities and areas of need can help school administrators identify priorities they might not otherwise be aware of.
To determine whether or not certain resources benefit students and justify the cost, administrators can collect and analyze data.
For example, to determine whether a particular software program helps English language learners develop English speaking, reading, and writing skills, they can monitor student performance before and after implementing the new resource. If teachers notice a significant improvement in student outcomes, administrators will know to continue investing in the program. If the language learning software only seems to be helping a small percentage of students, administrators may decide to reexamine their investment and search for other resources to implement instead.
Equitable resource management is vital when working to ensure that students, staff, and families have access to the resources they need to succeed. To allocate resources in a manner that will best serve all students, administrators must advocate for equitable education and identify ways to support underserved or marginalized groups.
Skills and Qualities of Effective Administrators
Because administrators oversee student success, they need to cultivate a diverse range of skills:
- People skills: Work effectively with and show a genuine interest in students of all levels of education, from preschool to 12th grade.
- Relationship building: Leverage relationships within the school and with the school system or school board in order to advocate for the needs of the students.
- Interpersonal communication: Communicate effectively with parents and guardians.
- Management: Hire teachers and staff members who can contribute to the goals of the school and provide mentorship and training to foster teacher success.
- Decision making: Make decisions that prioritize educational goals, teacher needs, and student outcomes.
- Budgeting: Create budgets and oversee spending to ensure the long term sustainability of programs.
- Creativity: Be innovative in presenting and utilizing limited resources for maximum potential.
- Administrative support: Serve as a support system for teachers, tutors, and specialists. Ensure the quality of education in the school, and cultivate a safe and positive learning environment.
Pursue an Education Career
School administrators play an integral role in the education field. As leaders of schools, administrators identify their students’ educational needs and determine how they can best meet them. By asking the right questions and making strategic decisions, administrators can implement effective resource management.
Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a school administrator can hone the skills they need through American University’s Doctorate in Education program.