Diamond English School with a strength of 360 students was started in 2006 by Mrs Noor Rahima Khan with a vision to create active learners and great leaders with high self-esteem and strong moral values. The school is located in Yarab Nagar, a Muslim majority area where most kids are first-generation learners. School Leader, Mrs Noor Rahima Khan joined the ISLI Fellowship recently. She is part of the 2019-2021 cohort.
Challenges faced by the School Leader
Mrs Noor Rahima Khan often struggles to dedicate time for school planning since throughout the day she is busy interacting with parents who walk into her office. She is a ‘one-man-army’ with respect to the administration and handling everything at the office. She does not have any support staff. Parents reach out to her for admission queries, fee payments, concerns about their children, transfer certificates, etc. This leaves her with little or no time to focus on planning for school development and realising her vision.
While there are a few schools that face the problem of lack of parent involvement and participation, Mrs Noor Rahima has the opposite issue. Parents would walk into her office to meet her and discuss various concerns.
Though the School Leader appreciated them taking the time and interest in their child’s development, she strongly felt that all the work that she would plan for the day would come to a standstill. The tasks for the day would get pushed to the following day and to the next until the deadlines for her top-priority work daunted her. She seldom found time to focus on essential aspects like school walkthrough and lesson observation. This also left no room for her to engage with the real challenges that the school was facing.
Intervention by the ISLI Programme Manager to support the School Leader and Steps taken
After the ISLI workshop and discussions with her Programme Manager Preethi Ramachandran, Mrs Noor Rahima was filled with new ideas and was determined to make time away from just parent interaction. She realised the need to set aside time for teacher training and planning for school development.
One of the ISLI workshop sessions introduced the School Leader to the 'Close Door-Open Door Policy'. She printed the visiting hour for parents and stuck it on the office door. This made the parents more aware that the School Leader would meet during specific hours. She informed parents about this new policy through their children and had teachers enforce the rule when parents walked in during the non-designated hours. This soon became a norm in the school which was adhered to by all parents.
A small step like this is a giant leap towards school transformation. Implementing this simple policy put sufficient time at her disposal that she can prioritize for improving her school. Just over a few months, there has been a drastic change in day-to-day functioning. Mrs Noor Rahima was able to dedicate more time to other important tasks in the school. She could regularly conduct school walkthrough, lesson observation, feedback and other activities that needed her attention. The parents now visit the School Leader only during the visiting hours. Mrs Noor Rahima is also mindful of making exceptions for emergency situations.
The School Leader has displayed not just good time management skills but has been working on other skill sets such as delegation, effective planning and implementation.
School Leader, Mrs Noor Rahima strongly believes that she has more control over her day. She meticulously plans each day to focus on the big picture - the vision and mission of the school.
It’s said that ‘either you run the day or the day runs you’, School Leader, Mrs Noor Rahima chose the former. This small introduction of best practice has brought in a lot of changes and she hopes to continue in a similar manner.
In future, with the help of ISLI and her Programme Manager, Mrs Noor Rahima wishes to identify opportunities for her teachers to improve their leadership skills. She foresees the effective use of ISLI network (of more than 1500 School Leaders), this academic year. She believes they (peer School Leaders) are of great help and an essential support system for her. She also pledges to use the ISLI School Improvement and Development Plan (SIDP) to drive her goals and vision of the school.