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Although three out of four aspirants in the current study discussed internal or intrinsic motivation in influencing their pursuit of the administrative credential, only half of those did so without any reference to leadership skills/experience or extrinsic motivation. These aspirants discussed many of the same things found in literature. Similar to graduate students in other studies (Adams&Hambright, 2004; Cooley&Shen, 1999), these aspirants were most frequently motivated by financial gain attached to school leadership positions. Three of four aspirants who mentioned financial gain motivating them had been teaching fewer than 11 years. Under the current salary structures in most districts, more senior teachers are among the highest paid teachers, and therefore would not realize a large difference in salary upon moving into school leadership. Those with less seniority who moved into administrative jobs would see the most financial gain. Being motivated to pursue a school leadership position for purely extrinsic or external reasons was mentioned least frequently, which again is supported by previous literature (Marsh, 1990; Sinclair, et al., 2006).

It is important to remember that the aspirants in this study are not yet principals, and although experience has shown that program participants have overwhelmingly indicated that they will apply for administrative positions, there is no evidence that they will be successful in being appointed as school leaders. Therefore, conclusions are based solely on aspirants’ perceived future leadership roles in schools.

That having been said, the results of this study provide insight into reasons teachers enroll in our educational leadership program. While only half discussed their own leadership skills, it is important to recognize that other factors better explain their motivations. The majority of aspirants were motivated by internal or intrinsic factors such as salary, challenges of the position, and the desire for more responsibilities.

The purpose of this study was to determine what motivates teachers to aspire school leadership. In this study, teachers responded by discussing their leadership skills, internal motivations, and external motivations. Although a few were unsure of whether or not they would consider leaving their classroom to move to the dark side - abandoning teaching – three times as many aspirants were motivated internally than externally . They viewed their decisions as a move into the light .


Adams, K.L.,&Hambright, G. (2004). Encouraged or discouraged? Women teacher leaders becoming principals. Clearing House, 77 (5), 209-211.

Bass, T.S. (2006). To be or not to be: Issues influencing educators’ decisions to enter the principalship. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 2 (4), 19-30.

Cooley, V.,&Shen, J. (1999). Who will lead? The top 10 factors that influence teachers moving into administration. NASSP Bulletin, 83 (606), 75-80.

Cranston, N.C. (2007). Through the eyes of potential aspirants: Another view of the principalship. School Leadership and Management, 27 (2), 109-128.

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Source:  OpenStax, Educational leadership and administration: teaching and program development, volume 23, 2011. OpenStax CNX. Sep 08, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11358/1.4
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