You are not in it alone!

by Dr Vidya Shetty, Director-Higher Education and New Initiatives, Presidency Group of Institutions, MENTOR for International Schools, Bengaluru, India

It is tempting to look the other way when you know your school is going through a problem that needs to be addressed judiciously. It is also easier to blame others for the problems that your school faces—be it internally or externally. What most of us do as Principals of Schools is to hesitate to discuss these problems with our seniors or fellow Principals or the Management for fear of being labeled inefficient or being labeled a troublemaker.

Problems at school could range from organizing your time to the school to poor planning to dealing with difficult students, parents and also discipline problems to legal issues. But then being the ‘change agent’ is what you need to bear in mind. Change agents do not hesitate to solve these problems or atleast make an attempt to solve these problems. Leadership at school can be an isolating profession and given the many bureaucratic demands that we have to face in our day to day administration, I guess most of us choose to close our doors and focus our energy on one thing that we consider our forte in school administration. Unfortunately this may not support the progress of the school and very soon we may realize that it is causing more harm to our school than good.
When I perceive a problem in any of the domains that I am responsible for I would rather like it to be resolved than let it have a cascading effect in the Institution. I try to come up with as many solutions as possible to solve the problem, do not hesitate to discuss this with colleagues, share my concerns and of course do so without dumping my problem on somebody else. I consider it important to mull over the problem, study the problem and if found appropriate even confront the problem. Discussing the problem with a mentor certainly helps.
I go back to my statement on Leadership at Schools and reiterate that School leadership can be isolating. I observe Principals at gatherings and conferences and meetings even hesitant to smile or talk to another fellow Principal. Why are we so guarded about ourselves, our school systems and settings? Why is it that our relationship cannot be non-evaluative and collegial rather than supervisorial? Why is that we have to be critical about the other school or leader rather than build a relation of comfort and co-existence? Times have changed, we need to now get into professional dialogue with each other, raise the level of discussions at conferences and view our schools and our roles with a progressive vision. This type of a relationship and understanding infact needs to seep into our school culture and it is a must that we look to colleagues within and beyond our schools for support and professional growth!

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