School leadership.

MAINSTREAM schools are now more accountable than ever before. Parents are viewed as customers, students as stakeholders, and teachers face more demands on their time and patience. In the intense effort to address learning losses after the pandemic, teaching and learning have been accelerated and schools are continually looking for new ways to improve teaching methods.

In this scramble for growth, school leadership plays a critical role. While teachers focus on the students, school leaders must set the direction, keep teachers motivated and monitor progress. Two pressing factors are realigning roles and responsibilities and building relationships among colleagues. Mostly, teachers who struggle to cope are either placed at the wrong level of teaching or are given subjects they aren't passionate about. Not all schools place teachers at the right level or the subject they are qualified for. This has a detrimental effect on students' motivation and learning.

Some of these teachers fall into a trap, complaining about their work environment. One can recognise them a mile away - from body language to their verbal interaction with students, something seems amiss. Teachers cannot hide in a little cubby hole, unlike other disgruntled employees at professional workspaces. Their attitude and behaviour directly impacts student learning and performance. In fact, many students mirror their teachers, especially in the early years. Successful school leaders keep an eagle eye out for employees who exhibit patterns of behaviour that might be damaging for the culture and ethos of the school.

The key to influencing teachers' work in the classroom is to help them focus on the real needs of students - from skills to personal capabilities, content and knowledge, motivation and achievement. If school leaders could help teachers prioritise these according to set benchmarks or policies, they would not get sidetracked into focusing on activities that have little impact on students' needs. Sharing responsibilities, establishing clear frameworks of accountability and collaboration among colleagues are other avenues of focus for school leaders.

A vision and direction must come from the top.

What is often described as the 'vibe' of a school stems from the sense of community established through student and teacher ties. In the absence of such ties, the divide between students and teachers is almost palpable in daily interaction, in student misdemeanours or behavioural...

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