FULL SPEECH TRANSCRIPT…..
Good morning friends. Arun and shibu has given a tough but interesting challenge.
Things I Would Do if I Were a High School Principal
Sometimes I like to imagine that the plan I have for my life includes being the principal of a school. Sometimes I like to imagine that I have the particular blend of patience, people skills, diplomacy and a really thick skin I think a good school leader needs. And sometimes I like to imagine that principals would listen to the ideas of someone who has no experience doing what they do, telling them what he would do in their place… his only qualifications being a keen sense of observation and a desire to suggest innovative solutions.
Few things I would like to change
I would make a point of dropping pleasant little surprises on deserving staff members.
No Moan Zone. I would have a strict ‘no negativity’ policy. It is often too easy to complain, especially when the pressure is on, or near the end of term. However, if we let negativity continue unchecked, the result is an unhappy staffroom and a less productive working environment. Left unchecked, negativity spreads like a cancer.
Develop Development. I would insist that staff endeavour to earn professional development points / badges for their appraisals by attending training sessions, going on courses, building their own programs and engaging with other teachers around the country, and around the world.
Flip the Flippin’ Meeting. Anyone else tired of being talked at during staff meetings? Most of what is discussed could be emailed or put on the notice board. If I were running things, meetings would be flipped up-side down by allowing members of staff and even students to set the agenda. Even big decisions traditionally left to the ‘management executive’ of the school could do with staff input. I would encourage asking instead of telling, and preference questions over answers. Staff meetings would take on a similar feel and structure to how I would like my classrooms to work: less ‘telling’, more discovery, exchange and learning. Additionally, every meeting must involve some form of training and enrichment.
When presidents of countries are elected, it is usually for a term of four to five years – often less. CEOs of major companies have a similar term of office. They might be re-elected if they have done a good job and are clearly capable of continued good leadership. This encourages them to see their leadership roles as an active responsibility, not just as a title. Shouldn’t the institutions that nurture these future leaders be run the same way? . Do we really want schools to be managed by people who cling to their little positions of power? I say we need to rotate leadership roles and responsibilities every three to four years – unless it is shown that the person in the particular position of leadership in the school is doing a good job.
Make it Flat. As schools become established, they tend to become more and more hierarchical. At relatively newly established schools, everyone mucks in to get things done – without having to be told to do so. I would do everything I could to get back to that ‘new school feel’, by keeping the hierarchy as flat as possible. Most teachers do not need to have a ‘Head of Department’ or any other kind of middle manager to tell them what needs to be done… and some teachers actually use the fact that they are not in charge as an excuse not to take responsibility for the management of their own subjects.
Happily Ever After. What do parents think school is for? Ask them, and most will tell you that it is about their children getting the best marks possible . If you really probe their answer, though, you will find that it is the bit in parentheses in the previous sentence that they truly care most about. It’s just that most parents associate getting good marks with eventual happiness. We need to change this mindset. School is about unlocking potential and helping kids find their passion . This is really what will make them happy and successful.
Towards this end, we need to educate parents on what a truly relevant, twenty-first century, child-centered education means, at the start of the school year. I would do all I could to get parents to support learning over marks, and self-discovery over the syllabus.
No books day. A little idea with a potentially large impact: To encourage more hands-ons, active approaches to learning, I would have a day a week (at least) where students are only required to bring their lunch. They will not write anything down, thus lessons have to be so engaging that students will remember them without having to record them. Linked to this, and if circumstances allow for it, I would also like to have an ‘e-learning day’ twice a term where students stay at home and submit work digitally.
Too often, we become complacent in the safety of our own classrooms and within the confines of our own subject. To shake things up a bit, and to foster more cross-pollination, I would set up an internal exchange programme to take place at regular intervals. This could be in the form of one teacher teaching another teacher’s classes within the same subject, or (even better) teaching a different subject. To my mind, this would give staff many fertile ideas for collaboration, as well as giving them a little more empathy with the challenges associated with teaching a different class or subject.
Dismissing Belittling. All teachers are aware of the scourge of students bullying one another. However, quite a few are not attuned to how subtle bullying can really be, and they allow it to happen right under their noses. But what’s worst is that some teachers still employ undisguised threats as a ‘motivational tactic’, as well as insidiously bullying their students. In line with the type of education I would want my school to offer, no teacher may consciously insult or belittle a student. Telling my students that bullying is unacceptable means nothing if teachers can get away with it.
Passion Project. Some educational systems allow students to research something which is of great interest to them as a core part of their learning in a particular year. I am enamored with this idea, but why not take it further? Whether a student is interested in Dance or Ancient History, Music or Philosophy, Quantum Physics or Complexity Theory – why not let them find out about it?
Give Them a Say. At the beginning of a term, I would ask teachers to provide a rough outline of the content to be taught to their classes, and then give students a large say in how it is to be learnt and assessed. I think we would be amazed at the innovative ideas they would come up with.
Participation as the Goal. I believe that extra-mural participation is a vital part of a holistic education. I would encourage as many students as I could to be involved in after-school activities – and in all of these activities, I would stress that participation, team work, sportsmanship and personal growth by far supercede winning.
Collaboration vs Competition. I would do away with any ‘academic’ awards which are based on some students having better marks than others. This is one of the primary causes of students and parents believing that marks are more important than learning. It is not a wishy-washy ‘everyone’s a winner’ philosophy, but one that seeks to address the misguided thinking which encourages ‘excellence through competition’ in learning. It is faulty to assume that these awards are solely about rewarding excellence – they are not. Rather, giving the mark-harvesters an award is assumed to be a good way to motivate those who have not received an award to try harder in order to get one next time.
Thinking as a Subject. Very few schools teach students how to think. We expect that they will know how to study and maximise their time in our classes by harnessing their particular bouquet of learning styles, but we never show them how to actually find out what these are. We tell them to think carefully about where they find their information, and not to plagiarise, but we seldom give them the precise research and analysis skills required to produce a high-quality research assignment.
No Detentions. There has to be a better way than imprisoning students and making them do menial work as punishment for their crimes. Schools should be centers of learning, not incarceration facilities.
This what I feel if I were a principal.. Thank u guys for listening me patiently. Byeee
Great ideas been inputted by Shylesh in the educational area. Would want to highlight certain paragraph that i liked most in this entire speech.
“School is about unlocking potential and helping kids find their passion . This is really what will make them happy and successful”.
“We tell them to think carefully about where they find their information, and not to plagiarise, but we seldom give them the precise research and analysis skills required to produce a high-quality research assignment”.
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