A school principal is like a captain of a ship. He charts and steers the school on to the right path through careful analysis and intensive practices. He is the navigational expert at the helm, considering solutions, introducing alternatives, and keeping abreast with new developments in the education field. Challenges only motivate him to ensure the school’s success.
As the head of school, the principal has to lead by example. A number of challenges accost a principal during his tenure. It is up to the principal to rise above them and implement practical solutions. The challenges are stronger in a low performing school. A principal in this case must incorporate comprehensive directives that resolve the issues.
10 ways to successfully overcome challenges
Turning around a low performing school is fraught with complex challenges. Below are 10 strategies principals can implement to overcome challenges:
- Set a strong sense of values and enhance atmosphere: School is a second home for students. A principal must incorporate ethics, morals and values in the mainframe of a school and impart them in all school communication with staff, teachers, parents and students. A positive, welcoming, engaging, cooperative and optimistic school environment is crucial for the successful development of a low performing school.
- Establish effective communication channels among faculty, parents and students: The key to a smooth functioning school is timely and constructive communication between administrators and teachers, teachers and students, and administrator/teacher and parents. The existence of a cohesive relationship among them will create a positive impact on education in the school. With feedback, suggestions, insights, and solutions, everyone can contribute to increasing the quality of education a student receives. Principals can unify communication through an online school management system – send instant and automatic SMS, email, notifications and reminders.
- Provide professional development training to staff: Student success and development can be achieved by providing teachers with professional development training in pertinent fields. Impart effective teaching strategies through the trainings to maximize teacher’s effectiveness in class. Armed with regular training, teachers can boost interactivity in classrooms, engage students with interesting activities, and capture their attention with fascinating learning programs. Teachers can also employ new education technology (EdTech) tools to optimize classroom learning.
- Recruit proficient teachers: This goes without saying; a staff up-to-date on the latest education trends, with practical knowledge of implementing instructional practices and delivering quality education programs is the core of a successful school. Teachers equipped with skill, knowledge of current practices, ability to educate effectively, and most importantly, have the will to follow through are an asset to a low performing school.
- Involve parents in school decisions: In my earlier article, I discussed how parental involvement is crucial for a student’s academic success. Besides that, parents must also be an active participant of school decisions to drive further development. Educational issues can be resolved through a strong partnership between the school and parents. This powerful partnership is a basis for the evolvement of thorough educational practices, key school reforms, and higher student success. A shared vision between the school and parent can activate an intensive development of the school and for the community.
- Flexibility and customization in class instructions: Every class is unique and hence every class must be approached differently. What works for one class may not work for another. The delivery and approach must match the identity of the classroom to educate effectively. This may seem like an uphill task but remember the above few points about competent teachers and parent involvement? Yes, this is a part where they come in. Create your own school family that steps up to such challenges and actively resolves them through communication, support and participation.
- Delivery is key to high student achievement: In schools with multi-lingual students, instructions and delivery must be delivered in the school’s primary language medium. While the multi-lingual aspect must not be disregarded, it is of optimum importance that the students receive instructions in the school’s main language. The programs in the school’s medium of language can be made interesting, interactive, intellectually stimulating and comprehensible to the students. Effective teaching strategies merged with regular student-teacher dialogue will ensure a satisfactory delivery of learning for higher student success.
- Adopt grade level curriculum: Curriculum for classes is mostly set for a lower grade than it is meant for. The rare schools adopt curriculum set at grade-level content for every grade. And guess what, they are successful in it. This challenge can be easily overcome through effective delivery. By setting the curriculum on par with the grade, schools create a benchmark for the students to achieve. With the right strategies and delivery, students can successfully grasp the grade-level content and set a new standard for the school.
- Align curriculum across grades: Imagine a smooth progress of curriculum at every level. Alignment of curriculum across grades is vital and beneficial to the academic progress of students. There are times when a fragmented curriculum has caused important lessons to be skipped. Vice-versa too, an overlapping curriculum leads to waste of time, energy and resources. Principals and teachers must meet to fix a curriculum plan for the year and to ensure a responsible coverage of education.
- Leverage bi/multi-literacy aspect: Several schools include more than one or two languages for academic purposes. English, French, German, Spanish, and Hindi are some of the various options that are part of the school’s curriculum. Collaborative sessions between students of different languages must be followed for better integration and understanding of language dynamics between students. Forums, groups, and events that promote the languages is an ideal way for students to enjoy the rich diversity available to them.
All said and done, successful schools don’t simply formulate plans and sit back. They act on them, aggressively, throughout the year. Principals must communicate and actively pursue their commitment to develop into a premium school of excellence. A school that nurtures, cares and is responsive is a school that reflects a promising future for the community.