Last Class – IN 2020, WHAT WILL BE NEW IN YOUR SCHOOL?
“The only way to remain or stand any chance of thriving in this business is to prove that you deserve to be there, that your reason for running a school is bigger than money, your present size irrespective. The bigger your school, the bigger your competitors, the more imperative it is that you separate yourself from every possible clutter and hence the the more important it is you take on new innovations that will keep your name on the lips of all and sundry. The more people talk good about your school in your community, the better for you.”
Today. We will pick just 2 of them for the sake of our time
Today, I want to focus on certain things that must change about your dealings with your teachers and parents next term. Permit me first of all, to express my displeasure about the attitude of many school owners towards the conduct of their teachers. Sometimes you find it difficult to convince a school owner that he/she is the owner of the school and should not condone ineptitude.
DON’T FEAR ANYONE?
Something makes me unhappy when I interact with schools. You see a school owner being very careful with everything and every move and does not want to offend any parent. That’s maybe understandable, but in many instances, overstretched, to an extent where they are already riding on your intelligence. You don’t want a negative avalanche that could lead to parents pulling out children. That can be justified, but it then becomes too pronounced your dealings and it results to some sort of FEAR that makes it impossible for you to even put down your foot on anything and insist on the exact kind of treatment you deserve. You can’t even make decisions because you’re scared of people pulling out.
I feel displeased when I see that instead of you being in charge of your school’s chances, other people are calling the shots, all in the name of customer protection, customer is always right and the ‘I live my teachers’ phenomenon. If I love you, should you be a hook on my neck? Should you not reciprocate that love with loyalty? Or your staffs don’t even see any genuine care for them in you.
CASE STUDY 1 – You Brought Yourself Here, You Now Fear Parents!
You admit every child into your college, or let’s just say into certain classes of the school. Your fee is not cheap among competitors, and so, you do not really have any reasonable cut off point in your entrance tests. Your tests are just a formality, you will admit every child into any class their parents insist, provided they are ready to pay all your fees. You want to admit every prospect. You pitch to your parents that however low the academic strength of these intakes, you have teachers capable enough to transform them into sterling performances in spite of their faulty foundation, and within an impossible time. You forget that the burden falls on your teachers and not on you. The moment you receive school fees, they (teachers) are under pressure to carry out your promise to the parents. That should be corrected, if not reversed.
Whether your teachers are commensurately motivated to go that self inflicted extra mile to fill those gaps that ought to have been filled in the children before they got enrolled, is a question left unanswered. And then in most cases, the teachers never meet those tasks. They work out their veins and the children don’t get transformed as promised. Not because they (teachers) aren’t competent or qualified enough, but because the deficiencies needed to be filled are just too wide, the children admitted do not have the right foundation and worse still, they (teachers) aren’t motivated enough to possess and exhibit the required excitement and selflessness needed to perform ‘SUPER’. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m saying. We can’t feign ignorance. We better pay attention to this issue.
Too many periods for teachers combined with loads of extracurricular assignments coupled with compulsory meetings and deadlines, leading to memos and queries here and there due to irrational fluctuations in their characters as a result of the heavy workload, will only make your workspace a mine instead of a haven. If you hear this and do something about it, good for you sir/ma. This is what what I see almost everywhere I go. That’s the feedback I get from most private school teachers. I deal with these issues first hand, and I think it’s just okay for me to share them with my network. Sometimes when I come to your schools, your teachers tell me what they cannot tell you and also things you cannot tell me the onus lie on me to help us out with all of these.
*So, here’s the resulting Problem: At this level, you fear the parent. Because what they paid for, isn’t happening.*
Because you have promised what you cannot deliver and they have paid all your quoted fees, they don’t want stories, they want results. You may have put yourself in a difficult situation, because your teachers do not have the right motivation to make your promises good.
This is not good. it has to change. it puts undue pressure on your teachers and facilities. They will never perform optimally, a policy should not be adjudged perfect only because it swells your purse. Even where it brings money, consider the practicability with your staff – the labourers – who will do the job. Run your school on policies and principles and not on sheer sentiment_
NB: Most private secondary schools fall into this trap. The era of children not meeting admission requirements after entrance examinations is rapidly becoming alien. We keep lowering the cut offs marks and awarding scholarships or discounts just to get the parents enticed and get the children enrolled at all cost. I have said repeatedly that not every prospect should be admitted. Not every parent that check in your school for enquiries should be followed up. You should begin to choose who you really want – both parents and teachers. You should also begin to promise only what you can deliver.
Is your workload getting too much for teachers? I know you understand all these things. You always want to drive them to deliver, but you don’t always get the results you want. Right from your deal with the parents, check what you promise your parents and make sure you have put on ground what exactly is required to deliver on those promises. You know all of these things, I’m only reminding you.
CASE STUDY 2 – This is Needless, YOU ALSO FEAR YOUR TEACHERS?
The saying holds true that the fear of losing teachers at a very critical time is the beginning of wisdom, but that fear is needless if you have done your part well. You fear your teachers leaving, right? You may not have told any of them, but I know because many have told me and I even see it myself. But it is needless. If you have done your homework well, and you have not fallen into the trap I painted in CASE STUDY 1, you don’t need to fear your teachers. Whatever you allow, always remember that your school is your school and the buck stops at your table. If you like, convert your business into a sort of democracy where you vote to have ideas accepted or implemented. I know you have wonderful people, but you should know that the highest decision making exercise is your job and not any other’s
Business is not a democracy, there should be levels of decision making that should not be left at the mercy of your subordinates. I once told you that no matter how big a conglomerate a business becomes, the owner knows himself. Even where corporate governance appears to be evidently enshrined, everyone knows that zenith bank belongs to Jim Ovia and Glo belongs to Mike Adenuga. Dangote belongs to Dangote and that’s just the way it is.
We know all of these things, so you should never convert your business into a democracy where you debate every decision, implementation among teachers, school heads and parents, as if you now have heads of schools or parents or teachers who can fit themselves perfectly into your shoes, 100 percent. If you have such, good for you, but that position is rare.
No matter how loyal they appear to be to you, the bulk of decision making still stops at your table and there should be some form of ingenuity and intuition in that. Because there are things you see that they do not see. The banks do not call them to come and refund loans, they call you. When parents want to leave the school, the bulk stops at your table. You authorize all those cheques, so the best decisions especially when it comes to the future of the school depend on you and not on your subordinates. I know what I’m saying, your subordinates may now be your biological children, they may now be those whom you’ve groomed for years, I understand , but understand your place in all of this.
Many school executives are digital immigrants, qualified and experienced, and though they’re trying to creatively force themselves into the flow, they’re not paying enough attention. They still see ICT as a mere subject in school and not a tool to move the school to a new level. They employ one ICT teacher and want him to double as teacher and overall ICT support provider for the whole school – fixing computers, attending to edutech providers and managing every software. They forget that in this era, any teacher that claims not to have internet data on his/her smart phone has no business in the school, and shouldn’t even be seen as a teacher, talk less of Head teacher..
The resultant negative effect is the outright reluctance school executives show towards every form of switch from analog operations to digital. Their argument is: parents are not ICT SAVVY, so why would you force them to check children’s results online, on Thinkally School Management Software for instance?
Are you kidding me? In 21st century? Where all parents are on WhatsApp, every hour? Please let’s step up our game. Surround yourself with a mixture of digital natives and immigrants, so there would be a balance between the old and the modern. Let your teachers submit weekly reports via email. Respond to those mails and conduct meetings online. Trust me, it saves time, space and resources. Not all issues require a physical meeting.
I’m however impressed with the performance of many of us online since we started SOF. I’m a few years older than the digital natives, but I’m also a software developer and internet expert. This has greatly helped our business strategies on SOF and other platforms.
Now, this is just an example. All I’m saying is that as a school owner, you should surround yourself with people who are ready to break their box and leap for the new levels. Do not surround yourself with people who appear to have reached the bus stop of learning. You boast that they have spent 10, 20, 25, years with you, that’s lively. But be sire that the reason they refuse to leave is not because they don’t want grow. I’m sorry if this speaks to you. Just do something about it. I’m speaking from the burden I have in me for school owners who surround themselves with liabilities instead of burden bearers.
BUT THERE’S GOOD NEWS!
Pls school owners, be wary of the people you saddle with decision making in your school this new year. Make sure they aren’t there for their own purses and they aren’t warding off every good ideas we try to sell to you all because they want to appear smart or doing their jobs.
This of course is however not a licence to making every decision alone. A healthy balance will help you a great deal.
As a summary, in this class, I have told you, that you won’t need to fear your parents or teachers provided you have taken the steps recommended. I taught in this class that you should be careful of the people you saddle with decision making.
I have also advised you not to convert your business into a democracy where people now cast votes to decide on policies, ideas and implementations that will determine the future of your school. If you need to start a new annex, start it and if you need to shut an unproductive one, please do so.
Avoid redundancy, where there are too many hands than available and defined work. Underline the phrase – Available and defined work. Do something definite to remain and thrive in this business. That teachers claim there is too much workload may simply be a fiction of redaundancy – there is a lopsided distribution of tasks that make sure certain people are overburdened because they’re very competent, efficient and brilliant and some on the other hand are redundant because that are incompetent, inefficient and perhaps unqualified.
If left to your school heads and subordinates, your school will sadly, remain where it is and possibly start trimming down. A word is enough for the wise. You know all these things, again I’m only reminding you.
Get my books for more.
NB: Nigeria’s Largest School Management Software – Thinkally – Just got bigger. Now you can manage all staffs, heads of schools, accountants and other personnel. You can manage staff payment on the portal and Parents can also pay school fees online. Visit thinkally.net for more