School Management and the Quality of the Didactic Process

Abstract

Before 1990 it had often been said that school is not as important as it does not result in production. One fact used to be overlooked though namely that school no matter where from gives society the most important production, without which society could not make progress and this production is LEARNING. Starting from this idea we can say that any school is appreciated in accordance with the quality of the learning it provides, which is reflected in the level of training of its students, in the way in which the latter can integrate into society. Following the same lines it is easy to observe that this training is the school’s responsibility and by that we mean school managers, teachers, students and all the other compartments of the school. Learning as school “production” consists in students’ performance and the latter is achieved in the lesson. We think, as so do others, that these three elements: learning, results and the lesson constitute the nucleus of a school towards which the efforts of its members should be devoted. The conclusion of our research as well as the conclusion of other researchers is that the quality of the school management or the management of any training institution and the way in which the managerial functions are put into practice influence the quality of the lesson.

Keywords: Managementmanagermanagerial functionslearningresultslesson

1.Introduction

To carry out managerial functions, requirements and responsibilities, represent an important goal for

any manager, but especially for those working in the educational system. Why especially for those in our

system? Because almost every member of our society is interested in this system, because a great number

of children, young people and adults are included in this system, because they have parents, siblings,

friends interested in the results of the educational process. Besides the progress of our entire society

depends on the quality of education, formal non-formal or informal education. School is therefore a vital

institution in any society. School results are obtained through teachers and teachers are evaluated through

their students’ results. One cannot say that a teacher is very good unless one associates this evaluation

with the results of the students the teacher taught. Pupils’, students’ and trainees’ results are achieved

through lessons and courses; hence the necessity that all the activities of the educational institutions

should be carried out in such a way that they could provide the necessary conditions for the lesson to

bring about the desired results. The manager who is aware of this will put in all the efforts to stimulate the

lesson in the same way as the manager of a factory has the production as the main goal, for which he

engages all the forces of the factory. As professor Emil Paun says “the production” of school is

“learning” and the latter is achieved in class in the didactic process; that is why we consider that the

school manager must be preoccupied with focusing the forces of the institution on “learning”, as it can be

seen in the diagram below.

Figure 1: Results Learning Lesson
Results Learning Lesson
See Full Size >

2.Research Methodology & Findings and Results

In a questionnaire given to a few school principals to complete (the principals were part of a

research sample batch) there was the question: “Do you feel responsible for the results obtained by your

students?” To our surprise over 80% of the subjects answered “No”. We felt compelled by curiosity to

continue the research on this topic and to find out what made them give this answer. Most of the

principals we talked to said that those responsible for the results were the teachers, the students and the

parents. Some completed the answers with additional information, saying that they had a lot of other

problems in connection with the management of the school and did not have time to deal with the quality

of the lessons. Going further we found out other causes such as: the training of principals does not include

recommendations for observing and analysing lessons, the principal’s time is occupied with all sorts of

inquiries caused by complaints made by parents, students and teachers; a lot of students could not attend

school regularly because of the condition of the roads, because the buses taking them to school broke

down, because of poverty, etc. And these causes are obvious with some schools.

These elements as well as others made us carry out research on how managerial functions can be

fulfilled in schools. As part of this research a questionnaire was applied, face to face discussions with the

subjects involved were held and focus groups were organised especially at some training courses.

Interesting conclusions could be drawn in connection with initial training (pre- service training)

and continuous training (in-service training). First of all, 72% of those who attend school management

training courses, said that they attended the courses to get credits; 21% said that they were preparing to

become managers; 7% did not answer. From informal discussions it became clear that some attended the

management course because they could not enrol for other courses.

As far as the quality of the training courses is concerned, 52% of the trainees appreciated them as

being very interesting, 42%, as interesting and 6 % as uninteresting. With regard to the content of the

courses, 12% of the trainees found it too theoretical and over the level of understanding for some of them,

32% found it just theoretical and 56% considered it was a mixture of theory and practice in various

proportions. What is interesting is the big difference between the evaluations provided by the trainees at

the end of the courses and the answers given to our questions.

In connection with the themes tackled in the school management training courses, 71% of the

trainees found it necessary to have a course on the methodology of teaching various subjects, as it might

be useful for guidance and counselling when it comes to the principal’s duty to observe a number of

lessons.

Before dealing with managerial functions, it is important to review the roles of the school manager

for whose fulfilment an appropriate theoretical and practical training is required being known that

management is both a science and an art. Among the managerial roles, the most important could be that

of:

  • Representative of the entity which manages schools (the state, the employer, the economic agent, a religious entity, etc.). In this position the manager enforces the laws of the country regarding education, the rules and regulations concerning the management of schools and educational institutions;

  • Representative of the educational community of the institution whose manager he/she is in relation to other organisations in the country or abroad;

  • Authorising officer and material resources manager;

  • Decision maker in matters regarding the institution whose manager he/she is;

  • Mediator between the members of the institution;

  • Evaluator of the activity of the members of the institution and so on and so forth.

In order to fulfil these roles and functions, the manager must acquire specific management

competences, which consist of specific knowledge, abilities in the domain and attitudes and values

referring to the entire management activity. He/she can get the knowledge from training courses; without

knowledge his management would be based on intuition, on other people’s experience, on chance, etc.

One can acquire abilities through knowledge put into management practice. Those who rely only

on intuition cannot achieve scientific management or the type of management suitable for the institution

whose manager they are. Attitudes are formed through self-education, and the values each of them holds

were formed through education before they became managers, and are liable to change and completion

through self-education.

In order to have an efficient management it is necessary to carry out the managerial duties

consciously and this is achieved if the manager knows equally well both the science and the art of

management and leadership. Only in this situation are the managerial functions correctly fulfilled. Our

research has revealed certain interesting aspects relevant to the matter being discussed.

One of the questions related to the planning function was: “Have you developed a vision and a

mission for your school?” The answers were as follows: 54% said “No”, 31% had developed only the

mission and 15% had both the vision and the mission, approved by the members of the institution.

When asked: “What did you rely on when you drew up your managerial plan?”, 17 % of the

subjects answered that they took into account the results of the previous year, 62% used the previous

results, the teachers’ proposals and also the perspective on the future development of the institution and

21% used the previous plan.

Discussions and focus groups revealed that in most cases instead of deadlines the activities/tasks

were recorded as “permanent” and under the heading “Who is in charge?” there was often the answer “all

the teachers”. Some interlocutors were taken by surprise to hear that “in this case the managerial plan

tends to become the school rules of procedure”.

Another aspect revealed by discussions and focus groups was the fact that a number of plans

contained activities which did not have in view the lesson and implicitly learning. They were related to

different festivities, visits, trips, performances, competitions, etc., which have their importance but

learning requires more space.

All the subjects mentioned that the plan had been approved by the teachers in the school teachers’

meeting.

The managerial function which is better regulated through instructions, methodologies and rules is

carried out in better conditions. The subjects who answered the questionnaire knew what this function

means (the management of the pupils/students, the management of the teachers, the management of the

other school compartments) - 100% -, but when asked “How do you develop relations between these

groups?”, 89% answered correctly and knew what they had to do. On the other hand, the other 11% did

not have a clear idea of what duties each group had; nor did they know that their main preoccupation was

to ensure the best conditions so that learning could happen in the most appropriate way. The latter part

refers also to the coordination function which regulates the relation between decisions and actions, so that

all the compartments should be functional and all the goals achieved.

School managers sometimes wish they implemented certain new elements in teaching, in the

relations with the students or in other areas. When they come up with such ideas in their institutions they

need to answer the following questions: Why should we change things? What results will we get? Do I

need to do this? (as I am older in this position). Such situations occur because it is well known that people

oppose the idea of change for various reasons, among which there are: the fact that they do not grasp the

true meaning of change, that change brings about fear of the unknown, that the purpose of change is not

known, that people do not respect their leaders, etc. The manager has to take into account these causes

and to be prepared to explain them to his/her subordinates. Putting the new/the change into practice

largely depends on his capacity to motivate the staff. He has therefore to fulfil the function to motivate

people. 75% of the subjects were aware of this function, but 29% did not know what this function

consisted in.

Monitoring is an organised and planned activity aiming to watch and check to what degree the

goals and the managerial plan are achieved over a period of time. So managers check to what extent the

staff of the institution manage to accomplish the tasks in a coherent manner by observing the target level

of performance; this would allow the manager to start taking remedial measures in order to achieve the

expected results. From discussions we have learnt that managers are asked to participate in so many

activities outside school that it is very difficult for them to carry out this function in normal conditions.

Some works in the field mention the function of control and evaluation for our educational

system; this function used to be called the function of control and evaluation, but for some time it has

become the function of guidance, control and evaluation. We consider the latter to be the more

appropriate name; only the order of the words should follow the order in which the actions actually occur:

the function of control, evaluation and counselling. The managers participating in the focus groups also

found it appropriate as they perform the control through observing lessons and then during the

discussions with the observed teacher, they evaluate according to scientific criteria. Analysing the

answers to the questionnaire it could be found that all the managers (100%), but more the assistant

managers than the principals, have class observations (actually they are compelled to do that by law),

52% have an analysis immediately after the lesson, 48% do that when they have time, while 100%

appreciated that the analysis takes place in a collegial atmosphere. The discussions also revealed that for

some the analysis meant “telling the teacher whether I liked the lesson or not”, about 51% said that they

followed the criteria in the regulations and 15% said that they also had their own criteria. Only 11% were

preoccupied in their analysis with the progress or regress of the teacher in relation to the latter’s previous

lessons.

In their focus groups the principals mentioned that they could not observe all the teachers in one

school year and the assistant managers said that they focussed more on the teachers who had recently

come to their school, on young teachers and teachers with problems, while teachers generally considered

as good or very good are left aside because of lack of time.

3.Conclusions

Taking into consideration all the aspects presented so far, we conclude that there is need for

change in the management in education.

Firstly we should define what school management is and what its prerogatives are, which should

lead us to establishing the necessary competences. These competences must be decisive in matters of staff

recruitment and selection.

Secondly before getting the job or immediately after, the people in question should attend a

training course in which theory and practice should occupy equal space or even more space should be

allotted to managerial practice.

The next step would be monitoring the newly appointed managers for a period of time by

specialists in the field (a kind of mentors for managers).

Another aspect which should be resolved is the time in which the manager could hold the position,

as whether it is for 4 or 8 years, the manager must also have a number of classes. If he gets the position

for an undetermined period of time or if the managerial position is professionalised, the manager can be

exempt of classes. In this situation it necessary to have an assistant manager who could control and

counsel the teachers.

We think that there is no institution which can work coherently and efficiently unless the function

of communication is carried out appropriately; through this function the manager ensures the

communication channels within the institution, the forms of negociation in case of conflict or educational

crisis, the ways to communicate with each and every member of the staff. It is interesting that the

managers who answered the questionnaire considered that they communicated well with all the

colleagues in their school, some of them justifying that through the fact that they were not on bad terms

with anybody (6%). The answers were pretty diversified: 4%, “the others obey me”; 11%, “ I use a

suitable style of communication”; 6%, “ I don’t waste time talking too much”; 42%, “ I organised

channels of communication”; 31%, I know how to negotiate.”

We have realised by now how managerial functions are carried out in the educational system. We

think it is time for a change of conception, for a new vision of the managerial function.

The documents regarding planning and the measures proposed should have in view school

“production”, that is training and educating the students/pupils and the activities included in the plan

should show to what extent they can contribute to student development at every level. These aspects

should definitely draw the attention of all those who propose measures for the managerial plan and of

those who control and assess. Firstly, this document should start from a deep analysis of the results of the

respective school an analysis not only of the figures reflecting students’ performances, but also the causes

of certain failures, of the dysfunctions of certain areas of activity. The new document should contain

measures to eliminate these causes and drawing up of the document should be a coherent and efficient

process reflecting the problems of the school.

Although the organisational function is generally carried out correctly, a thorough analysis shows

certain aspects which could be improved. Thus the commissions on different problems are usually

organised in such a way that each teacher could have a responsibility and not as a result of an analysis of

the competences of the respective teachers followed by an appointment in that commission in which they

could wholly fulfil their potential. These commissions are organised in accordance with the school’s

problems and so they should not be the same in all the schools.

The questionnaire revealed that likewise the coordination function is carried out correctly. Certain

aspects were single out in discussions and focus groups. Some managers do not believe that it is alright to

delegate responsibilities as they lose some of their power while the people holding those responsibilities

can become potential substitutes, may be better appreciated by the other members of the staff, etc. In fact

delegating responsibilities is a very good procedure for at least two reasons: firstly one person cannot deal

with all the problems of a school and secondly each of the teachers holding responsibilities can attract

supporters to contribute to the achievement of the school objectives.

The coordination function does not rely only on these aspects but also on implementing what is

new, on ensuring the relations between the different compartments of the institution. The two functions

regarding organisation and coordination act together to improve learning through: making every

compartment work correctly, applying the appropriate decisions so that the “production” of the institution

rise to the quality level established, etc. In order to make that happen the manager must be convinced of

their usefulness and attract other members in the same direction.

Performing the motivation function, managers can positively influence the quality of the teaching-

learning-evaluation process, on condition that they have the information regarding a new type of lesson,

able to meet the requirements of students today. Through the relations they have with the teachers,

through the visits and observations of lessons, managers can motivate teachers to approach the lesson in a

different way, to foster a different kind of relations with students and parents so that learning can act

differently on the student.

The function of control, evaluation and counselling is extremely important in ensuring the quality

of teaching and learning; that is why we insisted from the beginning on the need to train managers in the

methodology of teaching. By observing lessons, evaluating lessons and counselling teachers useful things

can be achieved in the field of learning, ranging up to different teaching approaches according to different classes, depending on the students’ problems in each class.

References

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2017.05.02.26

Online ISSN

2357-1330