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School head: Manager or leader?

By Rey O. Asug

As a teacher-in -charge or school administrator of a small school in Partido area, here in Camarines Sur for over a couple of years now, I do not really pay much attention to the difference in meaning between leadership and management. For me, their meaning is the same---both point to a person who leads a group of people for their own common good--- until I came across Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which had sold over 25 million copies all over the world on its 25th anniversary edition.

The phenomenal book of Stephen Covey says that we can point out the difference between leadership and management by this anecdote: When a group of scouts go to a jungle, managers are busy cutting the trees, grasses and other things that block their way into the jungle. However, the leader is he who says “Wrong Jungle! Let’s try another direction!”

Leaders choose the right way; managers see to it that everyone and everything are all right. Leaders find the right path. Managers make the path right. Moreover, Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis’s words have the same substance when they said “Leadership is doing the right things. Management is doing things right”. In school, the roles of leaders are portrayed by the school heads while teachers are more likely to assume the roles of the managers. School heads set the direction of all the activities in schools while teachers perform the activities according to the direction given by the school head.

More to the point, educational or instructional leaders such as school principal, head teachers and teachers-in-charge should see to it that they do the right things for their schools. They should do the right things for the teachers, learners, and the whole community. They should do the same with the curriculum and physical facilities of the school. In other words, school leaders should do the right things for the betterment of the school and all those who comprise it.

And what are these things?

As school a school leader, I have a chance to do simple things for our school. By the way, our school is situated along San Miguel Bay and Himoragat River in Tinambac, Camarines Sur in Bicol. It is a small school with one teacher per grade level. Before reaching the school, we have to cross the Himoragat River which is eventually connected with San Miguel Bay. We use boats to reach our dear school. The geographical location alone is a challenge for a school leader like me. Yes, it is challenging. But never have I turned my back to my obligation as the head of the school despite its location and people. That, I think, is educational leadership.

Moreover, our school participates in all DepEd activities such as Brigada Eskuwela, Oplan Balik-Eskuwela, enrolment, nutrition month celebration, reading activities and others. These activities have become channels through which school head’s leadership can be shared. Being a school head is a real hard work. Nothing comes easy in the setting direction or leading the path for good leadership. However, nothing can compensate for the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment after the hard work has been rightfully done.

So, what about educational management? Can educational leaders become educational managers? Certainly. But what is educational management? The word ‘manage’ comes from Italian word ‘mannegiar’ (which means ‘to handle’) which also derives from the Latin word ‘manus’ (hand). Dr. Satish Kumar said that “management is about carrying out organizational functions and tasks through people.” (Kumar, 2021, p.1)

Educational management has five basic functions: 1) planning 2) organizing 3) coordinating 4) commanding 5) controlling. As a school head, I have always resort to using these functions to make things easier in implementing all the programs we have in school. For example, we had just joined the choir competition during the festival of talents here in our district. And luckily we got the chance to represent our district to the congressional cultural competition. It was our first time as a school to participate in such kind of cultural competition here in Partido area. The challenge was big, but we were determined to give it our best shot as a school. As the school leader I try to use my managerial function once again. I employ the five basic functions of educational management in carrying out the goals and objectives of that simple activity of joining the choir competition ---for the first time.

With much enthusiasm, I started planning all the activities we would do as a school to prepare for the contest. I called for a conference to discuss important things with my seven teachers. Positively, everyone supported the planned activities. Then, we formed different committees that would do the different tasks involved. All showed great enthusiasm in doing their respective tasks to carry out the activity. At this point, I realized that the commitment and dedication shown by the members would largely depend on the commitment and dedication the members saw in their leader. If the leader works with great commitment and dedication, the members would be influenced to do the same. Otherwise, they would do the opposite. Work attitudes of the members greatly reflect the attitude of their leader.

Going back to the contest: During the preparation, I was able to show my initiative and skills as a leader by doing the tasks at hand myself. I did not command anyone in the group to do his/her respective task with dedication and commitment. I know this tactic would not be effective. I had to do the tasks at hand myself sincerely before my subordinates could do the same. Leading by doing. That was my formula. And it proved very effective. In this situation, I was the leader---and at the same time a manager. I pointed out to them the right things to do. At the same time, I did those things rightfully---so they could do the same.

Luckily, the result of the contest was good. As a small school who joined a big competition for the first time, and although we did not get the top awards---that result was a sweet success for us!

It was the result of the creative efforts of the leader and a manager---rolled into one.


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