Great school heads adapt to the environment and empower their teachers, staff and students to succeed. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, TRC staff outlines the traits of an exceptional school head.

As a teacher you probably know how important administrative support is. A teacher who is facing an issue in the classroom, should feel supported and should be able to get the help he or she requires. Not surprisingly then, lack of support from the administration is one of the main reasons that teachers end up leaving schools. This is not to say that teachers should be supported whether they are right or wrong. However, a good school leader understands that teachers can make mistakes too and act accordingly in a situation. Nurturing teaching staff is just one aspect of a school head’s job. From the faculty to the students to the staff, a school head is in charge of all aspects of a school. If you are nurturing the dream of becoming a school head at some point in your career, here are 7 traits you will need to cultivate.

1. Take Responsibility

You must be willing to take responsibility for the school’s success…and failures too. This means that whenever your school does well, you will be the first one to get credit. However, if something goes wrong the onus of the failure will be on your shoulders and you will have to bear the consequences too. As a school head you will be required to put everyone’s needs ahead of your own and persevere. The success and failure of the institution is in your hands.

2. Stay Active and Involved

As a school head you will need to get out and walk around your school. You cannot run the day-to-day affairs of the school from your room. You will need to get out and walk around. Sit in classes, walk around the school halls, smile and greet people. Every seemingly small thing you do to stay involved can have a big impact on the institution.

3. Be Fair and Reasonable

Life is not fair, but as a school head you will have to be. As a school head you might have favorites, however you will lose credibility if the staff or students notice that you aren’t treating everyone fairly. For instance, if a boy who gets into trouble has a fight with a super achiever who has won accolades for the school and the two of them are equally at fault, both should face the consequences. You cannot let off the achiever because he is head boy. As a head, no matter how you feel, you cannot give preferential treatment to any student, teacher or staff member.

4. Be a Good Listener

A lot of your staff, teachers and students may not approach you thinking you are very busy. While that is true and you, as a head, are multitasking for the greater part of the day, you should make the effort to stop and listen to people. It can make all the difference to the general environment of the school. Listening can also bring many things to your awareness.

On the other hand, those who do walk into your office, are probably people who are nursing a complaint. Many times just listening to people helps calm them down. So work on your listening skills if you want to be a school head someday.

5. Be Respectful

As a head it is your duty to make sure that you motivate your teachers every day. The best way to do that it to give them respect for the difficult job that they are doing. As a leader you should facilitate them in every way and provide them with everything that you can within reason, to enable them to do their job to the best of their abilities. When you respect people for the work they do, it compels them to give more to their job and try harder.

6. Solve Problems

There are a lot of people who will look to you whenever there is a problem. Teachers, students, staff and parents will probably see you as a problem solver. You will need to stay calm during stressful situations and use good unbiased judgement to resolve certain issues. You will also need to get involved in looking for a solution or helping people find their own solution to their issues. When you help people find solutions it enables them to actively look for solutions whenever an issue comes up, instead of waiting passively for change to happen.

7. Be a Role Model

Model the behavior you want to see in others. If school staff and teachers see you losing your temper with a student, they are likely to think it is okay to do so. If they see you shirking your responsibilities, they will think that is acceptable and will evade their responsibilities too. If they see you listening to students and building a relationship with them, they will realise the importance of doing so. In fact, even parents may become more conscious of their behavior with their children, if they see you taking the time to respond to their children respectfully.

Being a school head can be challenging. However, many of these challenges can be overcome by a school head who is emotionally intelligent and has strong interpersonal skills. The exceptional administrator will be dedicated to the school and will come across as someone who has the best interest of all stakeholders at heart. It is not an easy job, but if done with dedication and responsibility it will pay off in the long run and can be personally fulfilling.

November 2017