Like everything else in the area of education,supervision is undergoing many changes.I still remember many stories of teachers trembling of fear for days and maybe weeks upon knowing that the ‘inspector’ is visiting them.I have seen cases of teachers who have never prepared a lesson plan,fortunately not a lot, and they ask other colleagues to lend them their lesson plan on the day of the ‘inspector”s visit.This reminds me of old women borrowing their friends’ dress for a wedding party! I still remember story,I was told, of a teacher leaving the inspector in the classroom because he did not prepare his lesson.
This might show a lot about the image which teachers held or still hold about what was once called the inspector ,in fact the same title is still used officially today,though the role is no longer the same.
It used to be the case that the inspector had the role of going into classrooms and inspecting teachers,maybe trying to pinpoint their mistakes,and sometimes even forcing mistakes out even though none was there.I still doubt if those inspectors came into the teacher with a constructive intention!I am not going to generalize;yet,we all heard of stories where inspectors thought that their mission was to ask a series of ‘where is…?’ questions,hoping that they would fall on something the teacher missed preparing or bringing to class.Such inspectors didn’t know that their main job is to help teachers improve their teaching practices for the sake of better improving the quality of students’ achievement.
I have seen that the profession both of teaching and supervision is undergoing many changes,I hope that the impact that will affect the destination (learners) will be positive.Today,the title ‘inspector’ should be revisited for the sake of appropriately describing what the function of this person really is.Many people have already started using the term ‘supervisor’.I think this term carries less of the ‘go for the hunt’ connotations that are associated with the term ‘inspector’.I am now aware that today’s new generation of supervisors are themselves unwilling to use the term ‘inspector’ anymore.
Today’s supervisors should be equiped with the skills and willingness to defend the students’ interests and to do that they should be no more than supportive to teachers,in every aspects of the teaching profession.Spervisors should have enough knowledge and skills to deal with the new methodological situations.These situations,today,shouldn’t be only related to the teaching of the basic language skills such as reading and writing;yet,they are more of a new nature because our students are dealing with the new technologies,webtools,gadgets and applications.Supervisors should train themselves,now that official training in that area is lacking or inefficient,on how to help teachers,hence students,on how to exploit these new learning tools for the sake of communicating better with the world.That’s one mission,which is stated but not well-targeted in our educational documents and policies.
Today,supervisors should help teachers to rely more on themselves for their professional development.This can happen by creating learning communities (virtual or real).The supervisor’s mission ,then,is to create the conditions in which teachers gather,exchange ideas and grow together.We all know of cases where some of our best teachers have very innovative and effecient practices and they keep them for themselves,not because they are unwilling to share them;yet,the necessary conditions for sharing are not provided.
Today,I suppose that any ‘where is …(this or that)?’ question from a supervisor should be justified with pedagogic reasons.Teachers should see the relevance and importance of any document or suggestion ….only then can they be ready to change their views and habits.It’s obviously useless and also painful to ask someone to prepare something without telling them the reason why and sometimes even how.It would ,of course, seem as a sort of punishment to tell a teacher that he/she should adopt a certain method or technique without being able to see the rationale and the effect that is going to have on students.That’s what’s happening to our students today,abd that’s why their achievement is far below the expectations.Our students are not told about the meaning and relevance of what they are doing at school,and so it’s somehow justified if they see ‘meaninglesness’ in everything around them.So,for the process to have a positive impact on learning,teachers should see the ‘meaning’ of what they are doing or told to do,and they have in turn to share that ‘meaningfulness’ with their learners.
I hope this blog is not too long for you to read.Please feel free to put forward your ideas and comments.
I was walking around in my classroom today and I was attracted to a recently written graffiti which on the wall .That graffiti is a multiple choice question in which the writer asked his/her mates the following question:
“What is this place? choose the correct answer: – Prison -Hospital.”
This writing has pushed me to think about what is that that makes our students see school as either a prison or a hospital.I asked some of my classes about why school is a prison for them and they answered in different ways.Some of them think that schools don’t offer what students really need in their life.Some of them have expressed their opinion in written form saying that they study English,maths,geography and all the other core subjects;while,there is no space for other extra-curricular activities.Some students have said that the absence of subjects that appeal to students’ interests really demotivates them and makes school a boring place.The word “boring” was repeated in the answers of many of them.
Other students have said that school is “prison” for them because of the behaviours that come from some of their mates.
So many other writings on the walls of our school reflect the degree of hate that students -not all students of course- have towards school.Among the other writings that you see on the walls of our school are “rubbish”,”Shit!” and the like!
What is important in all that is not the words as such;but, how we can make students love school.The “reflections” that students write on the walls of classrooms while the teacher is busy with an activity or writing on the board show that students have other interests that are not catered for by the lesson that is taking place at the time of their writing.
Schools have to move from top-down systems where everything is decided from the top to a system where students have more freedom of choice.Schools should move into the era where students and teachers have more power on the materials they use,the activities they deal with and how they teach.
You might say that teachers are free to do all that!It’s not the case in our situation.The syllabus comes in the form of ministry circulars,the text-book is agreed upon and authorised by the ministry.The exams and the tests (number,methods,duration….) is all decided by the teacher.The amount of time that is located to a huge text-book -the syllabus- doesn’t match the huge content that has to be covered,which makes it impossible for a teacher to think of other things except when and how to finish a program in which students will be tested on the national and regional levels.All these constraints are a so heavy load on the teacher’s /the student’s back.
It’s high time for our educational authorities and school headmasters to see extra-curricular activities as a “paradise” for the school and the student.A huge amount of materials (grammar,reading,functions…) dealt with in a text-book doesn’t necessarily mean that those students have learned a lot.It means neither that the teacher has worked a lot or even better.Little is so enough and great when students see it as great.Too much materials leaves no room for the teacher’s and the student’s creativity and that’s exactly the job of old-times ‘ prisons.So,no wonder if students see school as prison.
Look,we shouldn’t forget that in many parts of the globe,including my country,our children have got more freedom outside school these days than they have in schools.It’s so sarcastic and funny that we keep teaching about human rights,values and freedom of choice ;while, school is the place where that is to be expected less,at least in the present time.
High school students are around 18-20 years old.They are mature and old enough to make decisions and have their own choices.Teachers are there to cater for the students’ needs,and they should be given that ethical right with no reservation.Teachers are the only ones who know what,when and how to teach.They also know that there times where teaching grammar or any other language skill wouldn’t work.So,give them the freedom to skip grammar and do something else that will certainly be of great benifit for the student.I am not advocating an anti-syllabus or anti-textbook view.A road map is always necessary for the goals to be achieved.My view is the road map should be the teacher’s business.The road map can be altered or simply ignored when that is necessary.With the present status-quo of education,teachers and students are obliged to follow a map that might lead to no where.
School should match the kind of life that students are living outside, either at home or outside home; if it is really to be called “school”.
I am not a school headmaster;but,I think that those looking at headmasters and administrators from the outside are more qualified to talk about the deadly aspects of a school leader.I have been teaching for my tenth year now,and I think that I have gathered enough data about what I think really describes the worst school leader.Here I am disclosing some of those features that you might have also seen or heard about somewhere.
It’s really a good thing for a school leader to listen to his/her colleagues,and have consultants and advisors within and outside his/her school.It’s a necessity today for any leader to cooperate and work within a group system.Yet,one of the worst mistakes that undermine the image of the leader in the eyes of his/her colleagues and co-workers is when the decisions taken by the leader are not his/her own,and they harm more than they cure the school and the students’ interests.It’s unfortunate that so many decisions are taken by others and put into practice by the school leader without even weighing the effects.
It’s also a deadly mistake for a leader when he/she’s no longer inspiring the school.Leaders should take initiatives,give ideas,guidance and advice for teachers and students as well.Some head teachers are only there and the educational adminstration,unfortunately, knows that he/she’s only filling the gap of the “head leader”.What’s the use of a “useless” leader? What roles is he/she really doing in school if not helping to make learning possible and to make growth and success the story of his/her school?It’s so sad that many school leaders do nothing more than watch who is present and who is absent today and the same tomorrow! A thing that shouldn’t be his/her job in the first place because that’s far under the position of a “leader”.
The other terrible feature of a school leader is when he/she is killing both the students and the teachers,and depriving them of their motivation and enthusiasm for a better school life.So many school leaders really destroy “their” school by the decisions they take,consciously or unconsciously.So many things are meant to be positive,and they end being no more than a failure.To err is human;however,it’s too hard when a mistake affects a whole generation; a whole nation.And that’s why making mistakes is really tough on the society in the domain of education.Enough about this!
So “childish” for a leader is when he/she gets into minor “conflicts” with the teachers or the students.Many school leaders pay too much attention to watching minute details about everything that’s happening in school that they forget about the big projects that the school is in need of.Who will deal with big issues when the headmaster is the one who deals with “absurdities”? It’s the leader’s job to have more open eyes on the outside of his/her school than on what’s happening inside.It’s the outside where he/she should find partnership realtions that will make the school a better learning place for everyone.
So sarcastic and laughter triggering when a school leader is afraid of spending the budget of the school.It’s for spending not for keeping for the coming year.There are many of the school heads who want to get an “EXCELLENT” observation from their superiors for having kept the money as it was sent to the school’s account.What’s worse is when the leader thinks that asking partners and sponsors for finantial help is “too much”! Some of them think that they are going to pay their own money!
Education is an adventure.We want our students to take risks.It’s NOT POSSIBLE as long as the teachers and leaders don’t take risks.I hope it’s not too long!
So many ideas have been written for years,and maybe for centuries on how to improve and develop education.Many educational theorists and psychologists have spoken about how schools can meet students’ needs and requirements.Many others have spoken about materials,curriculum and methods.
The motivational theory continues to influence the eduactional sphere,and it keeps on being quoted whenever we want to speak about the relation between students and school.
I am greatly impressed by Maslow’s hirarchy of needs, and I think that it is absolutely the theory that sums up the whole issue of how to motivate students,and,therefore,how to make school better cater for the needs of those who attend it.
In my country,as in many other countries of the world,millions of dollars are spent every year on educational reforms.But,education continues to be the most problematic sector for world governments.And despite the millions of dollars that are spent on making it better,students still continue to lose interest in attending classes,and the rates of school drop outs continues to raise year after year.
I am not sure if the educational policy makers are aware of Maslow ‘s hirarchy of needs and other educational theories!Probably,as it seems in our daily reality,they are not.
It is plain clear that the people who plan and implement educational theories jump into the higher levels of Maslow’s hirarchy.They have issued many documents and educational circulars about the standards that every student has to meet at the different levels of his/her school life.They have also spent a lot of money on changing the curriculum and printing new text-books….All this is adressing Maslow’s “esteem” and ” self-actualisation” levels of the human needs.
Many research articles have “warned” the educational authorities that to truely reform our schools and to motivate our learners,there are so many things that must happen first in the students’ lives outside school.
So, to change the syllabus,and to print coloured text-books in Spain or somewhere else doesn’t really target the heart of the issue.What we need is to meet the students’ and the teachers’ first basic needs.First things have to be dealt with first.Numerous educational articles have found that the students that come from disadvantaged families perfrom badly in school.
Our authorities must first of all ensure that those who attend school are not hungry.We have to be sure that the student is not suffering from flu and,still, he/she can’t afford to buy the medecines.We must also undrestand that moral and psychological security comes before learning in the hirarchy of human needs.That’s why it’s of paramount importance to make our students feel secure inside and also outside school.I cannot imagine a student whose father is struggling with bread to attend school in full psychological readiness.No one can expect a parent who has ,maybe, ten other kids and struggling to ensure survival for them, no one can expect him/her to keep track of what his/her child is doing at school.This explains why the majority of parents never come to school to inquire about their children’s educational difficulties or successs.And this is exactly the same reason why parents don’t come to school even if their child has a problem with a teacher or with the administration.Parents are too busy with the basic urges of their kids and their life.They have little space in their mind to fill with school matters.
An other factor that diminishes students’ achievement and which makes them at-risk children is the illiteracy of their parents.So many parents are illiterate ,and they are,consequently,totally unaware of the importance of education.Because of the high rates of unemployment in our country,and now in many developed countries too, parents believe that education has no role in their kids’ life since they graduate ,and still remain jobless for the rest of their lives.Our educational authorities,hence,have to make it clear to parents that school is not all about jobs.Parents,illiterate ones I mean,should know the real value of sending their kids to school.But again this can only happen when their first basic needs are met.And to meet their basic needs,their poverty has to stop,and for poverty to stop,they should have jobs.It’s all an endless circle that is highly tied to poverty and survival.
Poverty does not only affect the school achievement of the poor child,but it also affects even the learning conditions of the other -middle class- students who are in the same class.Poor students are more likely to engage in misbehaviour affecting, therefore,both the teacher and the other class mates.This makes the job of the teacher inside the classroom even more complicated.He/she has to deal with various misbehaviour problems while doing his/her primary job of teaching.This also adds another burden to the teacher as he/she has to plan different lessons/activities for the advantaged and the less advantaged student in class;otherwise, the less advantaged one will keep on being poor in every thing.
To conclude,if our educational policy makers really want to improve education, they must think of ways to end the child’s poverty first.Only,then,comes reform into the other levels.Only then we can blame teachers and the curriculum for the bad results of kids and of the high rates of school drop-outs.
I have seen a story today in my school,and it has kept me wondering about the future of our schools considering the type of leaders we have in the present time.
The story of today has pushed my thinking to write a post on what I think are the most important qualities that a school leader should have for our schools to endorse some of the 21st Century leadership skills.
Our leaders have to understand that it’s high time for them to consider themselves as hosts in their schools and not as supreme leaders.When leaders understand that school belongs to all those who are withing its walls,and to some of those outside as well,the community,only then can they take into consideration the others when they want to take any decision.
This leads us to another quality that is needed in our current educational leaders.Decisions have to be taken in a sharing and collaborative way within the school boards and bodies.Leadership is sharing and collaborating not taking unidirectional and bureaucratic decisions despite the rest of the school community.Students are there,and they are directly affected by any decision that is taken by their leaders.That’s why it’s necessary to take their existence and role into the utmost priority.Many wrong decisions are taken in their absence and they just accept them because they trust us.The leaders should know that they are responsible for those kids,and they really have to care for them.
Leadership,we should assume,comes from the bottom not from the top.Our leaders should understand that what gives them power is those whom they “administer” and not those who have appointed them.This means that decisions should be taken with respect to the needs, the conditions and the environment of those who are to be affected.School leaders don’t have to execute non-practical and unsuitable plans and decisions.This would be possible only if we take the children in our schools as ours,not as means to make money or to be promoted.
Today,we also need leaders who know how to motivate and boost their partners’ self-esteem and motivation.A lot of things inhibit a teacher’s and a student’s work in and outside school,and the school leader shouldn’t add more burden to the school stakeholders.In our schools,there should be leaders who know how to make differences between the different people who are under their supervision.These differences should stop being on “friendship” and personal relations.They should be made on professional performance and efficacy.
Linked to this is that our leaders should stop evaluating the performance of the teacher in a half in hour observation or depending on what they get from other people within or outside school.Evaluating a teachers’ efficacy has to be on a long term process.It should be made depending on the teacher’s overall performance,on the students’ results,on the teacher-student relations, not on the teacher-administration relations.
ooooh,it’s in the end but so heavy I think.Today’s leaders have to be “literate”.They have to be equipped with some of the 21st century skills.It’s still so sad to find out that our leaders in schools are ICT illiterate.It makes me so desperate to find out that leaders think of the computer as a waste of time,and see the internet as a tool that instills bad behavior into our school life.It’s so killing to find out leaders who are scared of the student’s mobile camera and of facebook or twitter.Most of them know nothing about social networking sites except what they heard during the Lybian and the Egyptian uprisings.Leaders of today should have access to web tools that should be of great benefit to everyone in school.The leaders of today should know that a mobile phone is not bad in itself.It’s just the way we use or see it.They have to know that a mobile can be used to take photos,photos can be used in projects,projects develop speaking,listening ,reading…if this is what they -leaders-assume to be learning.
ah,again,our leaders should know that learning is not only within the walls of an enclosed classroom.They should be taught that learning takes place every where within and outside school.They should learn that extra-curricular activities are vital to an adolescent’s life,just the same as play is for a four year old child.Leaders of our present schools have to know that presentations,drama,singing,drawing…build different things.At least they make school loved and enjoyable.
For all these qualities to be in our leaders,they have to read,research,communicate and above all they have to listen to what the school says.