EDUCATION | Effective school leadership

By Randy A. Bona EdD. 
Principal II, San Isidro Elem. School, Iriga City

Regardless of the style of leadership that a principal deems is best-suited to a situation, there are qualities that many principals have found to be essential in effective school leadership.

One of these is having a vision for the school, and a plan on how to achieve it. Like a driver of a vehicle, the principal must steer the school towards the direction that he or she believes is in the best interest of the school. Does the principal want the pupils to perform better in achievement tests? Does he or she hope to encourage pupils to be more creative? Does he or she envision a school where teachers are empowered and seek personal development? Having a well-made plan helps the principal foresee difficulties and think of ways to surmount these. It also gives the pupils, teachers, and school staff a sense of direction and an assurance that the principal will work hard to get to achieve the goal.

Another vital quality is visibility. A principal must not spend the entire day in his or her office; rather, he or she must see what is going on in the school campus. Doing so helps the principal gain first-hand information on the school’s positive and negative aspects, and either reinforce or work to improve them. Likewise, the principal’s visibility is important to the teachers, the pupils, the parents, and the school staff. It affirms that he or she is truly leading the school and not merely assigning this crucial task to subordinates.

Related to visibility is maintaining inclusivity. As the school’s leader, an effective principal must not take all matters in his or her own hands. Rather, he or she must collaborate and actively work with the other members of the school community to improve the school. An effective principal recognizes that leading a school effectively requires the assistance of the parents, the teachers, the pupils, and the school staff. By involving them in decision-making processes, they are able to share not only in the responsibilities, but also in the school’s success.

An effective principal is also a role model, abiding by the rules and regulations of the school, before even thinking of calling out others on noncompliance. Leading by example, on rules and regulations on punctuality or courtesy to the staff has significant implications on the members of the school community. It inspires them to follow the rules, and encourages them to expect that others follow these, as well.

Lastly, an effective school leader is sincere. He or she is driven not by a desire to reap admiration or get awards, but by a motivation to improve the lives of the members of the school community. Sincerity shows through how the principal interacts with the parents, guests, teachers, and maintenance staff. It is manifested by how much effort he or she gives in ensuring the welfare of the school. A sincere leader has a sense of purpose, and ultimately a commitment to education.