It’s almost the year-end. 2020 has been a year of many highs and lows, of small joys and big losses, and of resilience in the face of adversity. It really is the time to review the year that has passed and accordingly plan for the upcoming year. This year has been exceptional especially for educators. We have seen them across the world going out of their comfort zones and implying innovations and strategies to make online learning possible and meaningful for the students. Some exceptional stories have emerged of heroism and resilience. It is in these times of adversity that a person’s true character is exposed, and teachers have really shown us that they are learners first. Before I lay down my resolutions for school leaders, I just want to thank every educator out there for putting in their hard work and efforts, and for also prioritising learning and students above all else in these times of crisis.
Having some concrete resolutions with respect to education and learning through different platforms has become a must for a successful year ahead. The reason I want school leaders to make such resolutions is simply that the school leaders and educators are well-positioned to generate optimism and change, simply by recognizing that they are carefully watched and heard by the many people they encounter. They can use their influence to bring many positive changes not only in the educational system but also in the learning and teaching process.
So, what are these resolutions for 2021? What impact would they have?
- Continuous learning
A culture of learning within the school community helps everyone grow. As a school leader, one has to ensure that the institution is not just a learning centre for students but also for all management and teaching staff as well.
Ask your teachers to chalk out their learning paths for the year and document it. Everyone likes to grow even if it is by a small percentage. Continuous learning is keeping a record of your personal/professional growth and measuring it.
This culture shift should be started by the principal and adopted by the teachers and students alike. There is nothing more joyful for an individual than to know they are better today than they were yesterday. Personal growth is the most important aspect of positive work culture. When everyone is growing little by little the institution itself is growing a lot.
- Assessment for learning
Changing the culture from the assessment of learning to assessment for learning should be a top priority for the school leaders. When we take assessments for learning we are also giving feedback to the students so that they can plan their future lessons better and know where they stand.
In the old school method of assessment of learning, we simply take the assessment to benchmark a student and move on to the next lesson. There is no strategy to give feedback, re-teach or revisit the topics not understood. Implying the method of assessment for learning would carve the path of making active and responsible learners.
Also, in assessment for learning, we ensure that the questions are open-ended/analytical to check for student’s understanding of the topic and not just to score marks. Start a discussion with your students after every chapter/test and plan remedial for the topics not understood. You could also send out feedback forms after every chapter, wherein students would self-assess themselves on the learning outcomes.
- Embrace the power of ‘yet’
If a teacher or parent is overheard saying that their child can’t read or can’t draw a painting, make sure to make them realise that they are not able to do so ‘yet’. A school is a centre for learning, and we are all learning every day. This language shift should be started by the school leader and should be adopted by the staff and students alike.
This might seem like a small shift, but it will have a huge impact on the way teachers and parents think about their students. It makes the child confident and optimistic. It indulges the habit of never giving up and always to keep on trying in the students, making them lifelong learners.
- Be Qualitative
Make sure that everything you do is your best work. You are doing quality work not because you want more money, promotion or any material thing, but because it matters to you and good quality work gives you a deeper sense of satisfaction and achievement.
Lead by example. Work at your best capability even when no one is looking. You are working for yourself. Make your team understand that good quality work is expected from them and no compromise would be done on that front. People should know that if the work has your signature on it, then it is high-quality stuff. Period!
- Remember to Smile
A school campus can be a live wire. Something would always keep on happening. There can be a lot of tension building up and sometimes things can go awry. As a school leader, it is important to remain calm and maintain a tone of friendliness. When a leader smiles and sends out positive vibes, the team gets motivated and instilled with motivational and positive energy.
Every action, every impression you leave has a huge impact on the many teachers and students you interact with. So, choose them wisely. In the upcoming new year try instilling these positive changes in your schools. Create Change! Live it for a better tomorrow!
Wishing you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!
About the author: Gautam Rajgarhia, Pro-Vice Chairman, Delhi Public School (Varanasi | Nashik | Lava Nagpur)