Najam Jamal, Principal, Billabong High International School, Bhopal

Najam Jamal was a businessman destined for greatness before he met his wife, Samina. Samina’s flair for teaching and her inclination to teach young children sowed the seeds of setting up an educational institution, which they could call their own in the minds of Najam and Samina. It was during the process of setting up the school, that he came across Ms. Lina Ashar, Founder and Chairperson, Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd. (KKEL). Impressed and encouraged by the vision and philosophy of KKEL, the ed visionaries signed an MoU and the ‘Billabong High, Bhopal’ was born in 2005. In the thirteen years of well-designed administration and planned management, the school has come to stay and found its rightful place on the educational map of the country. Billabong High International School, Bhopal, is today hailed as a world-class school, an ‘oasis of excellence’ in the otherwise arid field of quality education.

To quote Napoleon Bonaparte, “Give me good mothers and I shall give you a great nation!”

I take the liberty of rephrasing it as, “Give schools good teachers and they shall give great citizens to build a great nation!”

It is the dream and endeavor of every ‘Edupreneur’ to hire the best teachers and retain them for longer periods as frequent recruitment of new teachers means frequent initiation programs, probations, constant assessment and uncertainty that prove inimical to the school and its progressive policies. A team of teachers working for a decent number of years develops unspoken compatibility, for the team works hand in hand, year after year, complementing each other’s strengths and countering challenges together. As such, a newbie may need to add some rigorous years of experience before he/she begins to roost with the flock to carry forward the vision and mission of the school!

As the professional growth of a teacher is dependent on the conducive environment and constant support provided by the school, the following strategies may be considered for implementation:

  • There should be a two – way open conversation between teachers and administrators.
  • Teachers should be allowed greater leeway in decision – making as ground zero reality is best known to them.
  • Teachers should be given various leadership roles as planners and trainers to further empower them.
  • Experienced teachers can be rewarded by asking them to hone the skills of the relatively less experienced ones. It not only ensures a strong bonding but also shows the trust endowed by administrators on the teachers who have served for a longer period.
  • Ample support to be provided to the staff for keeping them abreast with the latest trends and technology to ensure professional development.
  • The emotional and financial security of each teacher coupled with medical benefits should be given due consideration.
  • Collaborative planning, learning and decision making needs to be promoted within the teaching fraternity to ensure the best practices are adopted across all departments.
  • Frequent meetings, reports, responses and feedback from teachers, their mentors and learners must be taken to keep a track of any unforeseen issue which might crop up despite the best of planning and intent.
  • Appropriate work assignments must be given to new teachers. They must not be given the least desirable classes nor the most challenging students; either will prove detrimental and have an adverse impact on the growth of the teacher.
  • Opportunities to interact with other professionals must be provided to improve teaching skills to make teachers compatible with the newer generation of students.
  • Innovative approaches must be encouraged.
  • Schools should explicitly and tacitly stand by its teachers at all times to support the stand taken by them for the cause of education.
  • Schools should be learner-centered and assessment – centered where teachers can use tools and strategies to provide continuous feedback and monitor learning.
  • The teacher-student ratio should be limited in order to support the building of a strong rapport between the mentor and mentees.
  • Advanced technological support must be provided at all times in each classroom.
  • Schools have an assortment of learners hailing from various races, religions, ethnic diversity, and lifestyle and so on. Programs/workshops should be conducted to orient teachers to address the needs, care and responsibilities such classrooms may demand.
  • Opportunities may be provided so that the family at the workplace meets the actual families of the teaching fraternity.
  • A school should be an extended family ready to help any member in calamitous situations.
  • Even the smallest contribution must not go unnoticed and be appreciated in department and staff meetings.
  • In a rare case, where a teacher must leave, there must be exit interviews where every aspect that made the teacher take the decision should be considered important so that there is lesser attrition.
  • Interaction with alumni must be encouraged as teachers and taught both reminisce and live the dream days together thereby strengthening the bond with the school.

The heart and soul of a school reside within its teachers and acknowledgment of this vital aspect will translate to lower attrition and higher retention rates.

 

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