“ Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. ” – Tony Robbins.
School improvement is not brought about by chance. Before the start of each new school year principals must carry out their annual review of school performance for the previous year. They must analyse all the data pertaining to student academic performance, extra-curricular achievements and teacher performance and determine whether or not the previous year’s goals were met. They must understand the reasons for failure to meet any stated specific goals and come up with action plans to correct those failures during the following school year. This exercise must be done in a collaborative way. Principal and staff must engage in professional, evidence-based discourse designed to eliminate any weaknesses, capitalize on strengths, and move the school forward.
After this exercise, principals must clarify the goals for the new school year for staff, students and parents. Everyone has to understand exactly what is required and expected in order to effect improvement in the new school year. The principal posts the curricular and extra-curricular goals for the new school year and follows this up by putting measures in place to improve teaching and learning in the school. These measures should include further professional development for the staff, whether it be done in-house or externally. Mentoring should be arranged for all teachers who need it and regular classroom visits by the principal and department heads should be a priority. These visits allow administrators to observe the quality of teaching in the school on an ongoing basis, and give teachers regular feedback on their teaching, along with advice on how to improve their performance and remain on course to meet the agreed school goals relative to internal and external examination results.
Goals must be clear, realistic and measurable. Principals can therefore monitor progress and see trends. Teachers must be accountable and students must accept greater responsibility for their own learning. Parents should be encouraged to become more involved in the education of their children and maintain contact with their teachers since students learn better in this scenario.
If you are a new principal, you should review the previous principal’s goals for the previous year, consult with the administrative staff, analyse the school’s performance records for the previous year and determine which goals were met and which were not. You can then set your own goals accordingly.
School improvement is goal-driven. Set specific and clear goals for weaker subjects and monitor them constantly. Develop a culture of excellence, recognize, reward and praise positive teacher and student achievements and goal-directed behaviour. Promote teamwork. Constant motivation of staff and students will turn goal-setting into goal achievement.