Towards Democratic School Leadership: Fostering Collaboration and Growth

 Towards Democratic School Leadership: Fostering Collaboration and Growth

Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 14:31 By: admin
School Leadership

             Towards Democratic School Leadership: Fostering Collaboration and Growth


By Chandrika

The working environment in any setup reflects the style of leadership. In school leadership, it becomes even more important as it not only creates a working environment but also fosters a learning culture. Effective leadership refers to the ability to successfully influence and support a team or group of people. It is much more than just the delegation of tasks from the top to the bottom of any institution. It is about taking risks, challenging the status quo, and motivating team members. Leadership in educational settings is reflected through a leader’s proactive attitude and ability to radiate positive energy in institutional settings and processes while supporting others towards a whole and shared vision of the school. For all practical purposes, the head of the school is a member of the teaching community, although he/she has additional responsibilities as an administrator and supervisor who is accessible to them and also able to help and guide them. A good milieu in school implies a good relationship between school heads and teachers. Kimball Wiles, in "Supervision for Better Schools," A good milieu provides a ‘happy, hard-working, and enjoyable situation,’ while the absence of it makes school ‘a dull and disagreeable place.’ Such a good milieu is possible under democratic and less autocratic administration. In order to free leadership from the idea of a boss-subordinate relationship, the leader shall ‘periodically inquire about their problems and difficulties, their health, that of the members of the family, and try to be of service to them in their difficulties,’ as mentioned in a Report by Working Educators titled "Self Reform in School."

In the words of  Dr. J. M. Mahajan, “Democracy can be caught, not taught. So, if we have to prepare children for being effective citizens of democracy, the school should practice it.” In a democratic school administration, teachers and even students, wherever possible, participate in policy framing and making all such decisions which have a bearing on school vision and betterment. The constitution of Student Councils is a welcoming step in Delhi Govt. Schools. Democratic supervision can help teachers find their true growth. A democratic administrator knows how to appreciate and utilize the experience of others and how to delegate duties. Such a leader maintains the position of a friendly helpful advisor both in personal and professional matters. In contrast to a democratic school administration, ‘a leader with an authoritarian attitude acts as a supreme law giver, dictator, and does not obtain or confer with suggestions from the staff. He/she assumes that his/her function is to command and the duty of the staff is to obey. Such an attitude stifles the personality of teachers and as a result, hampers their real growth. As stated by Dr. J. M. Mahajan, “such an attitude is not advisable as it may pass on from leaders to teachers consciously or unconsciously and from teachers to those students who are being prepared for a democratic way of life. And, these children suffer from various complexes in such an environment.” The same has been highlighted by K. G. Saiyidain in "Problem of Educational Reconstruction," where he puts it as “… for they too must perpetuate, when they can, this sorry authoritarian tradition to which they had been subjected in their childhood.”


Some educationists have time and again argued that an authoritarian attitude results in efficiency in school and timely completion of work but one cannot deny the fact that mere completion of the task cannot be the ultimate goal of Education. Teaching is an intangible process that cannot be mathematically measured and one cannot discharge his duties efficiently if he is unable to realize his true potential. Every teacher is a unique personality with different attitudes, aptitudes, taste capacities, and capabilities.

Democracy in school supervision has to be reflected in the attitudes and not just in the formal structure. Mere formation of committees may give the school a look of democratic supervision but the same cannot be achieved until it is truly backed by a democratic spirit. Milieu is more important than the form for achieving greater productivity. Selective consultation is an unsound policy. C. A. Weber in "Personnel Problems of School Administration" says, “Where administrators and a few members of the staff initiate new procedures in a school without united and coordinated action of most of the professional staff, their plans are attacked behind the doors.” An efficient leader tries to be fair and just to all not only in school policies but also in the allocation of workload. It not only eliminates mutual jealousies but affects their loyalty to school, and their efforts for its betterment.


As a Mentor Teacher, I get opportunities to interact with a variety of school leaders. Here I quote the one whom I recently heard while she was addressing her staff. “When you work, work with dedication but at the same time don’t forget to live your life. In school, we are a team who work in collaboration with cooperation with each other. I dedicate the success of this school and my success as a school leader to my entire efficient team members. But at the same time, don’t forget you are also a unique individual. I urge you all to learn to spend time with yourself, spend a portion of your hard-earned money on yourself and give your health priority before anything else.” Needless to say, such working environments are stimulating to the teacher for better or more output. An ‘atmosphere of comradeship’ enhances the morale of teachers and definitely adds to their efficiency. A school may have the best of infrastructure but it may become meaningless unless conditioned by the effective leadership to stimulate teachers to make effective use of the same. A teacher can make various mistakes in teaching situations but a reformative democratic leader will criticize them for the sake of reforming them and not opposing or insulting them. Such a healthy milieu can lead to high morale and job satisfaction of teachers making it convenient for them to derive full benefit from educational leadership and putting in their best efforts for the development of the children in the desired directions. Having faith in the abilities of teachers and guiding them whenever needed by a school leader can serve as a positive stimulus.


Chandrika, TGT English, Mentor Teacher (Distt. SW-A)