By Dr. Alejandro P. Macadatar
EPS, DepEd Caraga
Republic Act 9155 also known as Governance of Basic Education Act provides that a school must be managed by a school head who has “the authority, responsibility and accountability for achieving higher learning outcomes.” His roles include, but not limited to, leadership, management, teacher evaluation, and enforcing student discipline.
Leading and managing the school requires more than hard work and time. An effective school head or principal therefore also needs to have the following leadership qualities and mindset:
1. Visionary. A visionary leader is driven and inspired by what a school can and must become. He/she can truly define what to achieve in the course of time. A visionary principal does not settle for the status quo. He strives to meet the desired outcomes. He knows the possibilities and he finds ways to address future challenges.
2. Learned. A learned school head gets the respect and admiration of teachers, learners and other stakeholders when his/her learning is above par. A principal must not only be a step ahead of the teachers but necessarily a mile away. This demands from him/her to do more private readings or research, attend more seminars, workshops, and trainings because he/she needs to gain important information and the skills to utilize such information for the improvement of the school.
A smart school head finds pleasure in valuing the ideas and opinions of intelligent teachers. In an improved and well-managed school, an unhealthy competition does not thrive because everyone’s point of view is important. A learned school head must also understand the different legal bases of every program, project, and activity even as he/she knows when and how to apply these in daily undertakings.
3. Visible. A principal who is often seen in the school premises promotes stability, calmness and sustainability. It is easy to respond to the needs of the stakeholders when the school head is around. How can a school head be able to monitor the happenings and the real situation of the school if he/she is often out?
A visible school head may do the following:
a. Take the first two hours in the morning to roam around and be aware of what’s going on in the school;
b. Check and monitor who among the teachers are having or not having classes or who are out;
c. Inspect common toilets, water supply, electric lamps, presence of intruders, etc;
d. Communicate with parents and some learners and monitor if there are learners staying outside during class hours.
In case the school head is out for official business or for other legal reasons, it is imperative for him/her to designate an Officer-in-Charge. Such a designation should include a defined terms of reference pertaining to its scope and limitations. This will ensure continuous operation of the school.
4. Transparent. To be transparent means to be honest at all times, particularly in all financial transactions involving human and technological resources. Transparency in financial management may make or break a school head. Stakeholders must be informed on how the money is spent and liquidated based on the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), canteen proceeds, income from IGP, donations, contributions, etc. The more transparent the school head is, the better for the school.
If transparency is evident in the school, people will be enticed to support school-based endeavours, especially if they understand the status of the school’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and future plans. Keeping them informed of the E-SIP/AIP and the School Report Card is an advantage. Pertinent information can be posted in an updated Transparency Board together with the Citizen’s Charter.
5. Provides Technical Assistance. A school head must provide Technical Assistance (TA) to those who need it. In fact, TA is one of his/her Key Result Areas (KRAs). It is provided especially to the new faculty members. It may be in the form of mentoring, coaching, conducting training and workshop, answering some inquiries, leading a team, sharing opinions, correcting and editing proposals and correspondences, etc.
6. Empowers people. To empower means to give others the full trust to do something for the betterment of the school. One way of doing this is to apply the power of delegation. School heads who are afraid to delegate their responsibility are not real leaders and managers. An empowering school head understands that he/she can delegate only the responsibility and not the accountability, for accountability still belongs to him/her.
An empowering leader is someone who values the presence of everyone in the organization, happy when someone is leading a team and does the work, enthusiastic in monitoring the progress of the task, and always prepared to provide inputs and feedback once needed.