Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tug-a-war between Management and Teachers in Educational Institutions

By clicking on this post, there is a high probability that you are involved in either of the educational sector roles mentioned in the title. There is also a high possibility that you feel or experience a gap between yourself in your professional role and your management or the teachers you manage.
Belonging to the sector of teachers, I am not able to speak of bridging the gaps with our managers without any bias; therefore, I do admit to any bias towards teachers you may sense throughout the post. In order to balance the bias, I would appreciate hearing from any managers in the educational sector who would like to share their own experiences and ideas on the matter.
The following suggestions may help to build bridges and fill in gaps between teachers and managers:
  • For managers to be aware of their students and their needs:
Why managers? Is it not the job of the teachers to help meet student needs and assist them in learning? This is exactly the reason why managers should have this knowledge about their students; to be aware of what the teachers are working towards and why, thus providing the environment, time, support, and resources needed by teachers to meet those needs.
The lack of awareness by managers has many consequences that teachers often experience such as: decision making that contradicts with student needs and thus the plan that the teacher has set to meet these needs. I have heard many teachers speak of such incidents, and I have spoken about quite a few myself. As a result, there is cliché that many teachers work by: ‘Listen to management, nod your heads then close the classroom door and do what is best for your students.’
Students’ needs may vary: being educational, emotional, or even physiological. Due to the fact that students may spend up to 8-10 hours in our educational institutions, meeting or ignoring our students’ needs plays a huge role in student success or failure in our education institutions; meeting students’ needs is therefore an aspect that managers and teachers both need to be aware of and work towards together rather than continuing to pull the strings in opposite directions.
  • For managers to be aware of time required by teachers to complete their tasks:
Again, why are managers better equipped with this knowledge? Is it not teachers who must manage their time to be able to carry out tasks that range from planning, creating/altering content, instructing, assessing, and any other tasks that differ according to the education institution?
Managers usually make the decisions regarding teachers’ class timetables and task deadlines, thus it is managers who ultimately decide what a teachers’ working schedule will look like. Therefore, knowing the estimated time needed to carry out tasks such as: producing a lesson plan, preparing materials, and tracking student progress can help managers have realistic time-bound expectations of their teachers rather than being disappointed that their teachers seem to always fail in meeting the deadlines.
It is commonly known that teaching is a profession in which lots of tasks are taken home if the teacher’s workload is too heavy to be completed within working hours. Many teachers have become accustomed to giving their personal time to their careers and others do not mind as the career path they have chosen is their passion, and it does not feel like work to them.
Regardless of how teachers feel about taking their work home, managers who are aware of the time needed to complete tasks will be in a better position to make decisions in order to reduce the amount of work teachers do at home by giving them sufficient time to do those tasks whilst at the educational institution. This will result in teachers having time to meet their own needs apart from the ones that are met at work; if teachers’ needs are equipped, they are better equipped to meet students’ needs and thus assist them in succeeding which ultimately leads to the success of the educational institution.