May 22, 2013 | 05:05 AM (BD Time)
22 May, 2013 Wednesday
What makes an effective head teacher?
The result of the most important public examination (SSC) has been published recently where it has excelled all the previous records in terms of the success rate as well as better performances of students. Of course, the nation is thankful to the present government since the pass rate is increasing every year because of their positive initiatives. The day is not so far when the quality of education will be improved and we will get 100% pass in public examinations.
Our secondary schools are evaluated and listed sequentially on the basis of points they acquire for their performance based on some criteria such as number of students registered with a school; percentage of regular students among those who were registered; percentage of successful students; number of students who achieved GPA 5; and average GPA of an institution. Seldom can we see a change in the list of the top 20 schools.
Sometimes the top listed 20 schools swap their positions but the 20 schools remain almost the same. Different national dailies publish features on the best schools lauding the head teachers and the schools for making it happen but we do not know how much the head teachers have contributed to make their schools successful. Does the credit go to them or they are only the bearers of the traditional success? Do they make any effective changes to the school teaching and learning? Many other questions could be asked in this way regarding their leadership to achieve the success happen.
The current topic under discussion has been partially tried to address in an article by Mr Ranjit Podder published in the New Nation on 13 May 2012 regarding expanding criteria to evaluate effective schools on. Of course, he deserves thank for his judicious writing. He mentioned that the education authority needs to consider some other aspects such as the environment and management of the institution where the students were educated in, cultural inclusiveness of the school; involvement of students in games and sports, social work or community services; what the level of students' achievement was in terms of marks or grades when they were admitted in a school (did the school avoid any students because of low calibre, race, religion, poverty etc i.e. Was the school inclusive in dealing with the students right through?); and the quality, qualifications, motivation level of teachers, if teachers been able to add value to the students' previous knowledge, skills, and attitudes during the time the students were in their school, and so on.
Those questions raised are significant and they are related to the leadership of the head teacher. As far as the leadership of a head teacher concerned to make an educational institution effective, some other questions can be raised such as, does the head teacher make the school a learning community?
Do they try to provide necessary time and facilities to teachers and students for conducting teaching-learning activities? Does a head teacher develop relationship with larger community such as teachers, staff, parents, and so on? Considering the questions would be worthy of evaluating the effectiveness a school as well as the leadership of a head teacher.
Almost all the successes of a school rely on the skilful leadership of the head teacher. In order to judge if a head teacher is effective or not, the education authority needs to set some criteria. As a research student at doctoral level in a first world university, I would like to propose some areas which might be considered in developing effective leaders in Bangladesh secondary schools, judging their effectiveness as well as to determine the best schools:
The head teacher builds and communicates common goals, a common sense of purpose and a clear vision: the head teacher works to set a goal, build a common sense of purpose and articulate a clear vision such as the school wants to increase their public examination result 10% more next year or anything else that suits the school with the collaboration of teachers, students, and community.
The head teacher appreciates value and respect of both their colleagues and students: the head teachers try to know their colleagues and students; actively appreciate, value, trust and respect those with whom they work. Such a head teacher is able to sense when a teacher or a student needs support and then ensures that the teacher or the student gets it timely.
In addition to that they also seek advice from teachers as well as students to make the school effective.
The head teacher monitors students and helps out with difficult or high-needs students: The head teacher is highly involved with students monitoring and helping them in difficult situations; and takes the lead in supporting students at risk. For instance, if a student fails in the examination, the head teacher tries to help the student to improve for future but does not allow the student to sit for the public examination until they are prepared enough to pass the examinations.
The head teacher listens to and support teachers in both professional and personal matters: The head teacher practises an open door policy where they care about and support teachers even in personal matters. They proactively arrange professional training based on the need of a teacher and sent them to different institutions in home and abroad for professional development where there is any opportunity.
The head teacher creates family-friendly working and learning environments: The head teacher create family-friendly working and learning environments in the school enhancing congenial environment for both teachers and students.
The head teacher involves their staff in planning and decision making: Teachers expect to be included as equal partners in all aspects of school planning and consider such participation to be a part of their own professional growth.
They also believe shared decision making empower them to become better decision maker in future. A head teacher is good if they include the inputs from teachers and help them to become future leaders.
The head teacher creates safe, positive and innovative learning communities: A school can be effective if the head teacher creates safe, positive and innovative learning communities in the school. In a number of ways the head teacher can create such communities by recruiting good staff; actively supporting teachers and students; providing and managing resources; and by embedding time in the school day when teachers can work together for better creating understanding among them.
All these criteria might not be possible to see and evaluate at the beginning when school-leadership has not been considered a vital area in Bangladesh education although very recently the government of Bangladesh has started to give importance in this field and has started to provide leadership training to the head teachers with a view to making learning-community in schools utilising teachers and students' talents.
However, we can start to evaluate head teachers' quality on the basis of how much the head teachers have been create a learning community in schools. After that we can recognise the effective head teachers in schools and present them to the whole nation because the head teachers are those people who can really make a difference through their leadership.
(The writer is an Assistant Professor at IER, DU & a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; email: email@example.com)
Art and Culture
Focus on Chittagong
Fashion & Beauty
Food and Drink
Law and Justice
New Nation Supplement
Editor: Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Adviser Editor: A.M. Mufazzal, Printed and Published by Mainul Hosein from the New Nation Printing Press, 1.R.K Mission Road, Dhaka-1203 Phones: New Nation PABX: 7122654, 7114514, 7122655, Fax: 880-2-7122650, 9512775 email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com for advertisement, firstname.lastname@example.org