EFFECTIVE SCHOOL LEADERS: What Stuff Great School Leaders are made of?

Post date: Jul 11, 2018 7:06:41 AM


Head TeacherII, City of Balanga National High School, City of Balanga, Bataan

In 1989, Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and self-help book presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls "true north" principles based on a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless (Covey, 2004). The 7 habits are (1) Be Proactive, (2) Begin With The End In Mind, (3) Put First Things First, (4) Think Win/Win, (5) Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood, (6) Synergize, and (7) Sharpen The Saw. Covey's best-known book, it has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication (CNN, 2012).

I have served as a Head Teacher for the past five years, beginning from 2013 to the present time at the City of Balanga National High School. Five years in the running, getting exposed to the nit and grit of the public school system and the daily interactions I have to do with teachers, students, parents, stakeholders, community leaders, local, division, regional, and national officials just to name a few, I have found out some important pointers, those ‘true north’ as what Covey tagged them, that makes school leaders effective. If Covey has 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I have also discovered the 7 Habits of Highly Effective School Leaders. While this might not be true for all contexts and for all people, I believe that these are some universals that we cannot just ignore and get on with the business of operating our schools.

First, make your presence felt. Our public school teachers need not only our administrative support but also our moral and spiritual support. Make your presence visible by making them know and feel that you care for them and for everyone in the school. Second, prioritize genuine learning of students. While it is true that the National Achievement Test (NAT) would be the only recognizable level of achievement of our students, do not encourage everyone to pursue NAT achievement but to pursue real and genuine learning. If our students are taught well by motivated teachers, then NAT scores will take care of itself. Third, make your teachers part of the decision-making and problem-solving processes. Much has been said about great leaders but what really makes great leaders are the followers who do the dirty job of daily tasks. Successful organizations encourage participation from everyone in both decision-making and problem solving processes. Fourth, say what you mean and mean what you say. Communication has been very important today. Get your message across and don’t miscommunicate. School leaders who can communicate well are on their way to success. There must be no room for your organization to misunderstand each other if only you would mean what you say and you would say what you mean. People notice more of what we do than what we say. Fifth, encourage beyond the classroom activities. Yes! Do not be the KJ (kill joy) and encourage fun among your students. Extra-curricular activities have been a proven component of successful school programs so think of beyond the classroom learning activities. Sixth, be a source of joy. Our public school teachers have been complaining about so much paper works. Lighten that burden by spreading joy to your teachers. Make them happy working despite of all the demands that teachers face every single school day. Be their source of joy and happiness. Seventh, and lastly, have a vision and share it. They say without a vision, people will perish. As a school head, you must know where to stir the direction of your school. No one follows a lost leader. Have a vision and make excellence as a vision. Get everyone into the vision and have them support it. So those are the stuff that makes great leaders.

As a school leader, we should not just take the lead in managing people, but in leading them to become more effective individuals and public servants of our beloved country!