I grew up in a family orientation that parents have the full authority and they have the last say on everything. If they decide on something the rest of the family will follow, objection will be entertained with minimal attention. This thinking is also carried over to my perception in school. For me it was ideal if teachers will be accountable to their students and principal is the head of all. It looks good in the organizational chart. One thinks of the policy, what to decide, when to decide and imposes – looks very organized and structured avoids confusion and lack of indirection.
There were also times that the principal would sit in our classes, observe the class and jot down notes. One of my teachers (but not the only teacher who did this) prior to this our teacher will inform us that class observation will happen soon and that we have to practice for that. So what we did is, a discussion took place and every now and then my teacher would tell us to remember particular parts of the lesson because she will ask them during the class observation by the principal. Many paid attention and many took notes. Observation day came and it seemed that the principal was happy, there was a vibrant discussion and we participated well in answering our teacher’s questions. The next day our teacher told us the positive result of the principal’s observation and we were all happy to have helped her passed her classroom observation.
Carmichael (1982) discussed the authority and power position
held by the principal in which the principal is viewed as all-
wise and all-competent by the staff on the lower rungs of the
power-structure ladder. This “omnicompetence” has been
internalized by principals and reinforced by others in the
school, making it difficult for principals to admit to any need
for professional development themselves or to recognize the
dynamic potential of staff contributions to decision making.
Furthermore, it is difficult for staff to propose divergent views
or ideas about the school’s effectiveness when the principal is
seen in such a dominant position. (Leslie Jones et al; The Importance of Professional Learning communities for School Improvement)
Basing my interpretation of the teacher’s action on above quote, the teacher might have thought that had she did not practiced the lesson prior to classroom observation she would not have passed the standard of the principal.
What are the questions on the papers the principal had with her during the observation to gauge if my teacher was at par with her standard that she would be able to say that my teacher is competent that I would not know. But to get to the conclusion that the principle has the last say with regard to what is quality teaching and competence in the knowledge of subject matter is without a doubt the principal alone.
This thought is not something new to me, I have always have the thought that principal has the highest knowledge not just in running the affairs of the school but also in each subject that is being taught in her school.
Carmichael proposed that the notion of principal omnicom-
petence be “ditched” in favor of principals’ participation in
professional development. Kleine-Kracht (1993) suggested
that administrators, along with teachers, must be learners:
“questioning, investigating, and seeking solutions” (p. 393) for
school improvement. The traditional pattern that “teachers
teach, students learn, and administrators manage is completely
[There is] no longer a hierarchy of who knows
more than someone else, but rather the need for everyone
to contribute” (professional learning communities; p15).
Coming across above article could be a breath of fresh air for the teachers, their thoughts will be sought and valued. They would be encouraged to think that they have earned the level of being credited for their knowledge and teaching experience. They will be considered at par with their principal in having the need for improvement, brainstorming opportunities and the privilege to experience decision making.
Having the right PLC we can stop from saying, “in the ideal world principals collaborate with their teachers and share the burden of decision making”, this is now a reality. May not be true to all schools or partially practiced in a school, eventually this will be universally practice with is wide range of benefits not just for teachers but also for the principals.
Knowing that it’s a support group and not pointing fingers to who is wrong and who is always right but it’s a group of educators seeking to understand where the missing piece of teaching skill is and how best to help, encourage one another to provide best education to the students.
Something that struck me the most in this module is that, the students who attends your class are not the only students you have, but each students in the school is your student, teachers should care for other students by helping other teachers in every way possible.
1. Professional Learning Communities; p15
2. Leslie Jones et al; The Importance of Professional Learning communities for School Improvement