How to create a great school (which will never become reality)

In the MOE org char, teachers are nameless, faceless, bottom-feeders. They are spoken of like a commodity the MOE owns. Drain them of their commitment to education and whatever value they can bring and subsequently, fill them up with misery. Discard when used. Rinse and repeat for every new batch of freshly minted graduates from NIE (National Institute of Education).


Instead of calling and treating them like they are at the bottom, why not treat them as the foundation? Because happy teachers make for a joyful learning experience. And that in turn drives student motivation and engagement. Which will increase student performance and it snowballs from there.


In a hypothetical education world, these 4 steps will transform a school into an amazing place.


FIRST: a commitment, from MOE, that schools are going to be different. The commitment is open-ended. Not a top-down only approach, where the teachers are constantly told what to do, accept it as mantra, sit down, shut-up and face the wall (it is no wonder teachers in turn treat their students the same way isn’t it?).


SECOND: hire for attitude, not for learned skills. When was the last time, NIE or even MOE accepted someone who has an alternate qualification that is considered ‘inferior’ (UniSIM graduates, anyone who came from ITE) as a teacher? You can teach someone to do just about anything. It’s far more difficult to build an instinct to care. When you hire trustworthy people who are willing to trust you, you have an opportunity to build trust, which enables communication, which allows you to teach, which upgrades everything.


THIRD: be clear in actions and words about what’s important. If you reward a teacher merely because he/she got something done, overlook the person who is hiding mistakes because his/her productivity is high, then you are rewarding short-term thinking, obfuscation and stealth. The teachers are not listening to your words as much as they’re seeking to understand where the boundaries and the guard rails lie, because they’ve learned from experience that people who do what gets rewarded, WILL get rewarded. HINT: if you tell people something is important but fail to give them the tools and the support and the training that they need to do that important thing, you’ve just told them that it’s not actually important.


LASTLY: MOE’s problem is not teacher’s problems, align the interest of both. The teachers who build the foundation have plenty of things to worry about. Whether they are getting a good rest. Meeting financial commitments. Finish marking the assignments. Caring for their spouse, children and/or parents, etc. MOE’s narrative is not one of them.


The teachers are the foundation, not the bottom. COMMENT.

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  • On March 01, 2017