Working as a teacher in various schools in different cities of the country, I often wondered about the role of schools in student life. Initially, it was a passing thought. After a couple of years and as my son started going to school, the thought started to frequent my mind a little too often.
When I alone couldn’t handle it in my mind, I started discussing it with my fellow teachers and my husband, who worked as a journalist on education beat with a national English newspaper. For work, he too regularly interacted with teachers, principals, parents and of course, students.
Being an insider (as a teacher), I realised that schools were doing little except teaching syllabus and conducting exams for students. As a teacher, I would often get up early in the morning or study late night and prepare my lessons for the next day. I took my work seriously. Somehow, I almost always had the most notorious class (often 12th) in my school. Yet, I never had any issues with my students. In fact, they were all so respectful and well behaved that I wondered why other teachers dreaded them. I had good equation with all school principals I worked with, primarily due to my sincerity towards my work. Often the staff strength was huge, so the principals never really got to know every teacher. Also, we believed that as teachers it was we who did the real job while the principal had superficial work like dealing with parents, signing documents and addressing teachers meetings after school (teachers hate it).
Back home, frequency of our discussions increased, primarily focusing on the huge gap between the work that could be done with kids in schools and the work actually being done. One fine day, we said- why not start a school! A dream school where all stake holders- teachers, principals, parents and students- are satisfied. Yes, we said to ourselves, such a school can exist! Busy with our respective jobs, we started discussing and debating the idea more seriously. The thought itself was so exciting. It gave me new energy and enthusiasm and also a purpose to move ahead.
We quit our respective jobs and decided to return to Bhiwani and start Vidyantriksh. As the admission process started, I slowly realised the role and responsibilities of being a principal, especially being the founder one.
And after five years, I can say that a principal is the most important person in a school. The reasons are plenty. A principal is the leader and guiding light of an institution. It is his vision that decides a school’s future. He is the fulcrum.
A principal is like a river which is always moving ahead (never stagnant), finds its way despite obstacles and in the process also smoothens the edges of rocks that come in its way, and is calm and tranquil below the surface despite everything. A principal has similar and multiple role. He is a student, teacher, parent, friend, manager, motivator, guide and counsellor who needs to understand not just academic needs but also the issues of personal and professional nature of students, parents, and teachers.
While he needs to ensure facilities for all round development of students, he also needs to provide excellent work environment for teachers to do so. There are challenges at every level, especially if you are a new school. As a principal, one need loads of energy, motivation and patience, as you strike balance between your vision, expectations of parents, the potential and performance of students and of course, managing teachers to get the best results.
One needs to constantly update and reinvent to remain relevant in the ever changing times. As a principal, I feel very passionate about the idea of educating children. It is an unending journey without any final destination.
Every There is no limit to improvements you can do. Every single day, I get up and realise that there is so much I can give to my children. Every single child offers an opportunity to give to the society a potential change maker, a future citizen who will bring about the positive changes we all talk about and want to see and live, an individual who will stand for the right values, an individual of whom we all can be proud of as a Society. And this thought gives me energy and keeps me going as a principal!
The writer is the founder principal of Vidyantriksh School, Bhiwani (Haryana).
(We need to educate students to face tests of life not train them in a life of tests at schools)