Redefining School leadership in today’s education system – Dr (Mrs) Bhawana Malik

Redefining School leadership in today’s education system

Dr. (Mrs) Bhawana Malik, Principal, Lovely Public Sr. Sec. School, P. D. Vihar, Delhi

Technology plays a major role in our lives today. Technological growth has accelerated because of the pandemic. Things we imagined to happen in a distant future are happening right in front of us. Children are attending their classes online. The source of all other school related experiences is merely attached to a laptop, tablet or a phone. The transformation from paper to digital has been a quick one. In these changing times, it is important for the leader or head of the institution, to be ahead of the curve.

The leader needs to lead by example. She needs to set the tone right. Discipline and ethics flow from the top. Albert Schweitzer, a philosopher and physician once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. Rather it is the only thing.” The leader should be open to discussions, opinions and learning. The leader should embody the essence of the school. It all starts with the leader. 

Combining modern practices with traditional hierarchies is the way forward. The leader needs to set forth a plan that not only promotes technology but also integrates it with the current faculty team and the running curriculum. The leader should not be hesitant to install and promote new technologies related to all fields in the school. The leader should take a forward-looking step in the direction that sets forth a modernized and advanced curriculum. Staying one step ahead in planning and implementing guides the school forward at a healthy pace and improves competence of the students as well as of the teachers.

The leader should set forth clear goals for the teachers. The leader should also clearly define the importance of those goals. After implementing clearly defined strategies to achieve those goals, the leader should also ensure that the goals are achieved. The leader should further promote healthy discussions around those goals. All factors should be taken into consideration. The roadblocks faced while working towards the goals should be dealt with. Corrective actions should be taken to ensure that the same roadblocks do not hamper progress again. An intensive focus should be laid on the teaching and learning relationships. Proper structure should be laid out to analyze and evaluate the teachers’ work. Constructive feedback should be given to them and emphasis should be laid on areas that have a high scope of improvement.

The leader should promote learning for the teachers. The more skillful the teachers become, the higher their clarity of thought. And higher their clarity of thought, better are their chances of explaining it to their students. Albert Einstein rightfully said “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”  Greater clarity of thought also makes the teachers more confident about their work. A confident teacher will produce confident students who in turn will have better clarity of thought. Consequently, the total outcome and performance of the school will see positive changes.

The leader needs to empower the teachers to make decisions related to the students’ interests. If a teacher feels her student has an aptitude for a different subject, she needs to promote it. Leadership is also about empowering those under you. Students should be supported in following their interests. The leader should ensure necessary guidance for the same.

The leader should equip the teachers and students with ample resources. Computer labs or laptops are essential with the introduction of coding. Not just coding, even basic education has moved online. The teachers need to be well versed with the basics of a computer if they aren’t already. During the pandemic, many teachers and students faced challenges. The future is likely to be more digital. Thus, it is really important that such challenges don’t pose a problem again.

Sports facilities, science labs, aeronautics, pottery, art and craft are other resources that provide a dynamic environment for students. However, they should not be promoted at the cost of core academic subjects.

One big factor that inspires people to excel is passion. Passion is not something that can be learnt or practiced. Passion comes from within. Passion drives growth. Passion motivates the thirst for excellence. A good leader is passionate about her work. This passion rubs on others working under the leader as well.

Commitment is another big factor that plays an important role in improving performance. Good leaders are committed to their work. They not only instill the discipline of commitment in their teachers but also encourage their students to show more commitment. Everyone looks up to the leader and learns from him. Positive energy towards work inspires the entire ecosystem running within the school. 

Commitment, loaded with passion, brings to life a strong culture. A culture that values feedback. A culture that promotes innovation. A culture that instills the drive to improve.

The leader needs to ensure a community within the school. In a good community, communication is of top priority. Students need to feel a sense of belonging in the school community. Only then will they not hesitate to communicate their doubts or discomfort about any topic. Free flow of communication is the guiding force for any great community. The level of comfort that students feel in getting forth their concerns, becomes a guiding force in their character development. The less hesitant the students are, in communicating their doubts and problems, the better it is for the teachers and ultimately the leader to take timely and corrective actions.

Building a community with free flow of communication and a strong culture should be the ultimate goal of any leader. The success of any institution is built through the synergistic effects of values and qualities of the leader and the combination and accumulation of the leadership strategies they use.

Once such an environment is created, results will follow. People will be accountable for their actions as they will know the school promotes communication. People will be motivated as they will know their work will be appreciated. People will take responsibility as they will know that their decisions matter. This will establish a positive mindset for the students, a positive mindset for the teachers and a positive mindset for the leader. Hence, the school will be a productive place.

Dr. Bhawana Malik (M.Com, M.A., M. Ed., Ph.D.) is a determined, self-directed, and an enthusiastic educator with a passionate commitment for the betterment of her students, welfare of her staff and overall progress of the society. 
She has an experience of 32 years as an Educationist and has been the principal of Lovely Public School for the last 14 years. She has been awarded many titles in these 3 decades such as CV Raman Education Award, Principal of the Year, Top 50 Effective Principal’s Award by Education Today, International Service Pride Awards 2021 by Topgallant Media and SAVITRIBAI PHULE SAMMAN by the Delhi Sahodaya Schools Complex. 
She is an active member of the National Progressive School Conference and the CBSE affiliation team. She has authored many educational books and actively contributes to literary journals in Hindi, English and Punjabi. 
With an insatiable need to help the education community she makes sure her own learning never stops. She recently completed a certified course by CBSE in ‘Clincical psychology’ and a diploma in Understanding children with Learning Disability. For her, life stops when learning stops, and education is incomplete without sharing it further.