Sunshine story: 93 school principals get coached in leadership skills

Updated: Sep 08, 2019, 07:48 IST | Pallavi Smart

93 schools principals from Mumbai get coached in leadership skills to improve academic results

Sunshine story: 93 school principals get coached in leadership skills
A workshop by ISLI underway. The classes are either held at the school campuses or in rented halls

Running a school in today's world is no longer only about academic expertise. Principals today need to be equipped for the managerial role—from day-today functioning to planning improvement in the school's academic records as well as bringing all stakeholders together to work towards a common goal. To this end, principals of civic and government-aided schools from Mumbai have gone back to the classroom in order to learn management and leadership skills.

Helping them in this is India School Leadership Institute (ISLI), a Mumbai-headquartered institute that provides training to school principals. The five-year-old institute, is currently working with 93 Mumbai schools—34 BMC schools and 59 budget private schools. The programme is a two-year fellowship which ensures that training does not end with a couple of days' workshops.

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A workshop by ISLI underway. The classes are either held at the school campuses or in rented halls
A workshop by ISLI underway. The classes are either held at the school campuses or in rented halls

Gayatri Nair Lobo, CEO of ISLI, said, "Such training is available for anybody in the market, but at a cost. Which is why it had been limited to principals of high-end schools. It is our mission to take this training module to schools whose principals don't have easy access. We feel in training one principal, we are serving all children from that school by providing better schooling opportunities. And we have already started getting great results with several principals returning for follow-ups."

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Kalyani Arumugam, principal of Matunga's SIES School, says the training has resulted in better academic performance, improved attendance, punctuality and teachers' participation in holistic development of students. "Making lesson plans was the most important point that came from the course. Teachers with many years of experience did not believe in making new lesson plans every year, as they have taught the entire syllabus several times. Now, we have a core committee of senior teachers, which prepares lesson plans for different subjects, ensuring that every 30-minute class includes tasks, making good use of each minute. These plans include clear objectives: how to begin, engaging kids and what they need to take back. This has shown great results not only in teachers' involvement in each lecture, but also children's participation ensuring better learning and understanding. All this is in showing positive effects in test results," Arumugam said.

Kalyani Arumugam
Kalyani Arumugam

In the course, which is free for BMC-run schools and is funded by the school management of private schools, principals are taught how to create a school vision, evaluate a school, setting goals and plans for the year, developing school culture, engaging all stakeholders such as teachers, parents and other staff. Deepti Adsule, Programme Lead for Mumbai at ISLI, explained, "Often we realise that principals do not have a goal or vision for their schools, or a plan to achieve those goals. Management of a school is like management of any other work organisation and so, we have blended management lessons for specific school conditions to develop such topics of training."

Each trainer is given a few schools, which he/she is expected to follow up with, to assist the principal in applying the lessons. For Arumugam, delegation was a struggle which she overcame. "Now, we have different committees of teachers looking after certain tasks which has made my job more efficient and goals more attainable. For example, to ensure punctuality, each teacher has made an agreement with his/her students regarding coming on time. The goal is being rated 'the most punctual class'." Late-comers are made to miss a class. Repeat offenders are asked to bring their parents in and miss the class with the student, so that parents too understand what being late can result in.

Deepti Adsule
Deepti Adsule

Shagufa Khan, principal of Chakala Urdu Municipal School, said, "One of the goals we marked was ensuring that every student in Std 8 is able to write in Urdu. It gave teachers a focus and also required them to share their results during an Action Research meeting. Teachers felt encouraged while presenting their work and interacting with each other in an academic give-and-take, which is rare at civic-run schools."

The training session does not include more than 20 schools at a time, so that all school principals are given proper training followed by personal assistance, by trainers in their schools. At the end of two years—classes are held sometime within school campuses or at rented halls— principals continue to remain in touch with the institute. "It helps to continue the affiliation to discuss other issues. More so, it is important to be part of different sessions where principals and teachers of different schools share their experiences, it provides a different perspective," said Arumugam.

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