A leadership marked by both personal integrity and value-driven vision, it is needless to argue, belongs to one of the most fundamental aspects of a truly effective organization. And as the new principal of a K-6 elementary school, whose composition consists in 450 students, 24 teachers, 15 office personnel and 1 custodian, I would do my best to build a legacy of strong leadership, vision and integrity. To my view, the challenges which the school currently faces all take cue from effective leadership, or its unfortunate lack thereof.
If I may correctly surmise, teachers resort to “power cliques” only when circumstances make room for it; i. e. , when they feel that they can fill up the power vacuum stemming from a system’s the lack of able headship. Just the same, an educational institution begins to suffer from unfriendly atmosphere when a sensible lack of checks and balances within the system is tolerated. Change is therefore a key benchmark at the onset of my assumption of duties.
But before making any administrative decision, I shall first circumscribe the nature and scope of the problems at hand, by paying close attention to the concerns of parents, teachers and other members of the community. Come August 1, I shall waste no time in gathering as much pertinent information as possible to figure what is wrong. After briefly introducing myself to the teachers and community, I shall initiate a campus-wide survey that would enable all stakeholders to vent their take on the current school system.
The results shall become objects of inquiry during the brainstorming and deliberation of the school’s working vision – an activity which shall be participated in by the entire school’s staff, and shall be held a week before the school year formally commences. During the meeting, I shall be employing a “non-directive” or “democratic” approach to the affairs of the deliberation periods. I would empower my staff to brainstorm and deliberate among themselves – under my guidance – the practices that need serious alteration, if only we can work for the greater good of the struggling school community.
In this approach, I am borrowing the idea propounded by Jonathan Rix and Kathy Simmons: effective learning institutions, they contend, needs “to alter” prevalent cultures so as to realign its vision towards maximal learning (2004, p. 67). By August 25, my mission is to communicate the new vision of the institution – collectively discerned, as they were, by the entire school administration and staff – to the parents and custodians concerned and, surely, to the students.
On top of such vision, I would also propose the idea of frequent classroom visitations, as well as thorough reviews of all extant instructional objects and learning materials. And since I find inclusivity and involvement as necessary factors for effective learning communities, I shall propose to set convenient but “non-compromise-able” dates for regular updating, participated in by administrators, parents, students, as well as by some representatives from community organizations.
Furthermore, I shall communicate to them the telling importance of mid-year evaluations, by way of school surveys, so as to rectify the seeming lack of checks and balances which the school once suffered from. The rest of the year shall be dedicated to a relentless effort in bringing about concrete fruition to the goals of the institution which has been set for the year. Goal-redefinition, if necessitated, can be accommodated during the mid-year. Critical to this continuing effort is my goal to meet all teachers and staff individually during the year.
Personally, I would like to work on concepts that find their concrete correlation with reality. The effort is, obviously, onerous on my part. But I am a firm believe that no great things can be achieved overnight. If I want my educational organization to succeed, I have to undergo the painstaking process of brainstorming and implementing goals, as well as leveling honest reviews in respect its relative success, or lack of it. Running a school entails the continued appreciation of the systems that work, a courage to change what does not work, and the wisdom to know the difference between them.