It is a new year and a good time to revisit the basics and essentials for running and operating a school, particularly in our clime. Due to some rather unfortunate incidents reported in the news last year that really questioned certain activities and practices allowed in some schools, every school owner and leader should check his/her readiness for the new term/year with these 12 BEs.
*1. BE VISION-MINDED* Hardly can anyone run any enterprise effectively without a vision formed and followed. So, every main word in the school’s vision or/and mission statement must ring with significance and meaning, setting the tone and direction for achievement of goals, and determining what is allowed (and what is not) in the school environment and running. Any organisation (school inclusive) is only as effective and successful as the depth of its vision and the drive to achieve its mission.
TO DO(s): Many school owners and leaders need to revisit their vision and mission statements with their staff, reinforcing.policies that their school will be run by based on the lofty statement(s). If you don’t have a vision/mission statement, then get to work to coin one that will aid you in really serving and equiping your students as best as you can.
*2. BE ASSERTIVE:* You cannot afford to be lily-livered as a school owner or leader.A lot happens in school that requires not just your attention, but your resolute stand, based on the vision and direction you have for the school. This however should not make you an abusive or overbearing boss. (Your dealings with your staff must always show respect for their person). You can be assertive without being unnecessarily aggressive.
TO DO(s): Be on top of your game in school running and handling of issues. Develop a mantra/slogan that will underscore your main assertions to make them pronounced and reinforced. Have soft but effective punitive measures to deal with students and staff that don’t take your assertions seriously.
*3. BE PROACTIVE* Have a good evaluation of your processes for last term/year to see areas that need improvement. Confront status quo if need be to realise necessary changes. The new term/year must be run more effectively than the last one. That is progress.
TO DO(s): Analyse how you fared last term/year in enrollment, classroom delivery, administration, income and expenditure, salary payment etc. Set the results against attainable standards and seek knowledge, information, expertise etc. that can make you perform more optimally. Act on the knowledge and expertise gained for desired results.
*4. BE PRAGMATIC*: There is no need building castles in the air. Your school will primarily attract customers (students and their
parents) based on the quality of value you render and the locality you are. Have SMART goals for embarking on any project, or a consolidation
or expansion. Apportion scarce reaources based on priority and need,.not just trying to copy another school.
TO DO(s): Unless you have a good repayment plan, refrain from sole borrowing to run your school. Become more resourceful with your gross income so that you can add more value to your students at little or no additional cost. Don’t embark on a white elephant project, in the name of expansion, that will sink your school enterprise. In your planning and execution, always prioritise what works at your level, and what makes things to work without unnecessarily draining your income.
*5. BE ACCOUNTABLE :* As a school owner, you may not be able to outrightly surrender the leadership of your school to anyone, but you should not also be a ‘sole lord’, thinking and reasoning everything out all alone. Find a way to (formally or informally) have an individual or group check your bias and intended decisions, to bring a balance where necessary. Finding a way to be accountable is a safety net that can prevent mistakes that may cause much regret later.
TO DO(s): Have a mentor in the education administration line (no one is too big or old to have a mentor) who can advise and counsel on major decisions. Submit to the standards of the school owners’ association you belong to or the education board you are answerable to. Have a functional PTA or/and alumni body that can demand accountability without trying to gain control of your school.
*6. BE CREDIBLE* : An enterprise tends to thrive the more when the owner can be predicted. You should be known for your right and righteous stand. You should not be found pretentious and fake in the ideals and best practices your school boasts of. That is living a double hypocritical life, not befitting your position and status!
TO DO(s): Don’t engage in any sharp practice you cannot admit to the administering or regulatory authority in charge. Examination malpractice should be a ‘NO: in your school because you possibly cannot come out in public to affirm or defend it. Inspection to your school by the Quality Assistance Team and other regulatory bodies should not be clouded and tainted with cover ups and lies.
*7. BE VIGILANT* : You are the ‘Chief Security Officer’ of your school premises. You can’t afford to be negligent regarding the safety and well-being of your students. Atrocities such as bullying, drug and sexual abuse should not be happening under your nose, and you don’t know about it — or worse still, you look the other way. You should always be at alert to pre-empt or deal with any form of deliquency that may rear its head among your students. The safety of every student is your responsibility while in school, and while being conveyed to and fro by the school bus.
TO DO(s): If you can afford it, install CCTV around your school for surveillance. If not (or in addition), walk through the classroom corridor, the dining room (for boarding school) etc. without prior notice. Question any inappropriate conduct, behaviour or representation and call things to order. Have a feedback system that makes you to know what happens in school, even when you are not around.
*8. BE RESILIENT* : You must develop an elephant’s skin not to compromise on standards or succumb to pressure against best practices. Your non-negotiables must be well drawn, consistently conveyed, and strictly adhered to by every staff and student, with you leading by example.
TO DO(s): Build winning strategies tegarding leadership, administratiion, learning and care that will help you maintain your good standards, and even improve on them. Lead in actualising these strategies with your inner circle, and the rest of your staff.
*9. BE INNOVATIVE* : How else can you forge ahead in such a tough terrian that school enterprise has become? Innovation will see you give more value to your students (and their parents) by devising means by which teaching, assessment, discipline etc. can be more effectively done. Innovation can single your school out among other schools around, ensuring you don’t only survive, but thrive.
TO DO(s): Your teaching methodology should give your students learning prompts that will endear them to their academic work. Also, expose them to unique learning experiences that will prepare them to be great professionals in the future. Work on the classroom arrangement and spatial order of your school, giving it an innovative and inspiring look and outlook. .
*10. BE TRANSPARENT* : Your openess to your staff on matters they need to know about will help them serve you better. Also, do not have sacred cows among students or parents. The same rule should apply to all, except for considerations that may be compassionate in nature, an exception that must not become the norm forcing a change in your rule. Be the first party to take action when an issue arises in your school that has the potential of destroying its image. Don’t secretly hide what may eventually blow up in your face. Deal openly and decisively on matters that can tarnish your image as a person and as a school.
TO DO(s): Have an open policy and approach dealing with staff and parents on what is expected of them and the implications if such expectations are not met. Don’t treat with kid gloves any case of juvenile delinquency reported among your students. Call the attention of the parents of such students as your first step in ensuring such an act is thoroughly dealt with. Then escalate to authorities if need be. Never condone injusice of any guise among your staff and students. Face and deal squarely with it in a decisive and transparent manner.
*11. BE LOVING*: Be the second parent of your students by really caring about their academics and everything around it. Connect with them more through the leadership you supply and the direction you give on or behind the scene. Be a role model in every way to them such that they perceive you as a father/mother, not just a nominal schoolhead or owner. You will influence more students positively that way.
TO DO(s): Affirm, commend or gently correct your students” dressing, behaviour, performance etc. individually and collectively, in a way they will be free to ask you questions personally. Bond and connect with them through inspiring and thought-provoking address and remarks, Strive to nurture them with your words and good works, and don’t fail to correct them when they are wrong. For goodness sake, please don’t!
*12. BE PRAYERFUL*: For any school owner or leader that believes in it, find your rhythm of engaging in the act of prayer, committing your school into God’s hands. Challenges may arise, even from where you least expect, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be challenged beyond what you are able to handle, and in the challenge provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.
TO DO(s): Having taken note of the first 11 points, regularly commit your staff, students, facilities and processes into God’s hands. To the level that it can be allowed based on the thrust of your school, and without overdoing it, make faith and prayer an ingredient in the whole mix of your pursuit for success, hoping to enjoy some gracious acts of providence as a result.
Happy New Year, and wishing you a successful school term/year!
Education Consultant and Columnist, and Author, Smart and Brilliant Writing Series