Be kind to school heads


Written by : Nithya Sidhhu | The Star/Asia News Network | Sun Oct 10 2010

School principals can be quite demanding, but teachers must be more tolerant and appreciative of their many responsibilities.

MY FATHER often said that a man should be respected for who he is, but if that is not possible, then the man should be at least respected for the position he holds.

When you judge a school principal, for instance, do you look at him and focus on his shortcomings and worry endlessly about what he can do to or for you?

Or, do you keep an open mind, focus on your teaching and realise that ultimately your professional success is in your own hands and the way you look at life?

The school principal’s personality and the way he manages the school can sometimes be annoying.

I would even agree that there are cases when teachers are justified when they claim that they have been victims of unfair practices.

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Be cool

In such cases, frustration may set in but, above and beyond all this, teachers must be cool and pragmatic.

It is the head of the school they’re talking about and let’s not forget, he’s the one who signs on the dotted line for every document they present to him — be it an application for leave, promotion, transfer, confirmation, or claims.

Throughout my teaching career, I have been guided by my father’s words. As such, I have not tried to antagonise anyone especially the school principal.

The appointment of a new principal to a particular school is often based on a combination of factors that range from hard work, experience and knowledge to purely good fortune and in some instances their “connections’’.

The principal is then expected to do the job of managing a school to the best of his abilities. Some are true leaders – setting the tone and direction of the school, while others are mere managers.

There will be the odd few who will choose to listen to biased information offered by some teachers who want to be in their good books.

But, the majority, I believe, will try their best to distribute fair and equitable duties to all the teachers and listen to their needs.

Having worked under 13 principals, I know I am right when I say that the human side of management is only practised by those who know the significance of acknowledgment and appreciation in boosting employee morale.

As for allowing upward communication and leaving the doors open to consultative, participative and innovative management practices, the realm of excellent principals.

But, I know no principal can placate his teachers all the time. Look at the United States President, Barack Obama – has he been able to please every American yet with his policies?

Or, our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad — despite receiving rave reviews as a visionary leader, does everyone in Malaysia today rave about him?

Similarly, given the vagaries of human nature, no principal will ever manage to achieve an ideal state of management.

But ask me whether I’d like to occupy such a hot seat myself and I’ll honestly say “No” as it involves huge responsibilities and I will not be able to take the stress.

My eldest sister, a retired school principal said that the responsibilities she shouldered as a school head was akin to the job of a chief executive officer of a large corporation.

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Multi-tasking

It required many skills and multi-tasking and having to put on a brave front, smile in the face of adversity, remain positive and keep the school moving forward, she shared.

To her, the biggest hurdle was to handle the ego of some teachers, who often felt they were right and wanted their views to be taken into consideration.

My sister took it in her stride and took time to recognise achievements big and small, especially in her last school where many students were academically weak.

Also, she made it a a point to deal with the countless problems that teachers, students and staff members had, with diplomacy and tact.

However her greatest achievement was when difficult teachers became more receptive of school policies and activities and when students worked towards improving their self image and that of the school.

It was enlightening to me as a teacher, because I began to see the bigger picture and appreciate the problems of the school principal.

Teachers should instead of asking what the school can do for them, should instead ask if they could contribute in some way towards the overall improvement of the school.

By doing so, they would certainly become better teachers and would be able to build an honest, friendly and strong relationship with their colleagues and students.

source : http://www.edvantage.com

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