I interviewed John Walker who is a renowned administrator in the education filed serving in the position of Superintendent of Henryetta Public schools. His experience in the education field is vast spanning over 26 years and having served in the position of an administrator for a record 12 years. I have worked under him over the last five years in the position of a high school principal. As such, I have a firm belief that he is the best suited person to interview on issues currently facing the education sector. I selected John Walker as a professional owing to his vast experience as an administrator for a number of years so as to tap into his wealth of experience in a way that could positively contribute to the education field.
According to the interviewee, there are various hot topics or issues currently facing the sector. Some of these issues relate to security matters in schools, dealing with rude and uncooperative parents and board members, the effect of federal legislation on schools, creating a professional learning environment in schools, ethics and getting a job in leadership in the education sector among others. He added that he is able to navigate through a range of demands from other stakeholders such as parents, students and teachers through intense negotiation and lobbying.
He is able to have his way in a soft manner at most times without coming across as too abrasive by way of giving negotiation and collective bargaining a chance. He emphasized on the need to consult with other relevant stakeholders so as to ensure that they do not feel left out or disregarded in matters that are germane to their welfare. This is because such a precedent may cause a rebellion to spring forth thus making the working condition even the more difficult. It must be borne in mind that in any society such as a school setting, different stakeholders share varying interests that at times may be conflicting. As such, an effective administrator must be armed with good negotiation skills to ensure that virtually none of the members in the fold feels disgruntled or having been ignored. As such, John has effectively used this method in a way that has enabled him to effectively and efficiently manage his resources and operations in his field. This mode works for him because of his ability to give dialogue a chance and not appear as too abrasive and hardheaded.
John monitors the learning environment through the use of questionnaires which are given to students to fill regarding various issues that relate to the learning environment and the whole operation of the school. For instance, the administrator sends a form which gauges instructors and teachers on their lecture methods and its effectiveness, behavior and professionalism as well as their attendance and general performance level.
This form is filled by students in their privacy and is submitted anonymously thus making it difficult for a student who writes an unfavorable report, to be cited for reprisals. This mode of assessment ensures that the administrator is fully aware of the teachers and other workers who are not fulfilling their mandate effectively and make the necessary adjustments. In the same vein, the administrator is also well acquainted with the workers who fulfill their roles effectively and thus reward them as a motivation mechanism. The method works for John as an administrator owing to the anonymity of the assessment forms and the fact that the assessment is done from persons who are recipients of the product-namely the students. In addition, John as an administrator in a learning institution has to work in collaboration with other stakeholders in the sector. He involves these stakeholders, communicates to them and generally collaborates with them on a myriad of issues so as to make it possible to run the institution. John stated in the interview that he writes a speech that is usually intended for parents as sponsors of the students, calling for their support to their children through the prompt payment of the requisite fees and levies to as to ensure the continued learning of their children with little or no disturbances. Further, he writes a note to students occasionally encouraging and motivating them on the need to work hard as well as enabling participation through the conduct of elections for student leaders. This move has the effect of making students not only feel appreciated but also believe that decisions are being made in a democratically. A similar move of rewards is usually executed among teachers where the administrator seeks to recognize the hardworking teachers through promotions and giving them added responsibilities and organizing trips and field days for them. All these are ways in which John as an administrator ensures that he involves, collaborates and communicates with all the key stakeholders in the sector.
With regard to problems and challenges that present themselves in the daily running of the institution, John seeks to assess the problem in detail, at first instance. He makes use of a constituted committee which is usually made up of teachers, parents and board members in discussing the problem or challenge that occurs. These challenges that normally arise rang from indiscipline among students and staff, cash crunch, passage of new pieces legislation that impact on the sector and security lapses among others. John brainstorms on the issue with the members of the committee which then advises on the way forward. This mode of solving problems works to the extent that the stakeholders feel that they own the problem and share in the challenges. As such, even in the event that the steps taken in alleviating the problem or solving the challenge do not succeed, it can never be said that the decision was unilateral. Further, the meeting together of minds provides the added chance of arriving at the best solution to the problem. He gave an example in this respect of an instance when a teacher was accused of sexually harassing a female student in the school and the actions that were taken. Without doubt, a unilateral move by the administrator standing alone would have raised issues of bias against the individual teacher. Following a meeting of the committee and the subsequent investigation which confirmed the alleged incident, it was agreed that the teacher proceed on suspension pending his appearance before the committees to answer to the charges and the possible filing of criminal charges against him.
In retrospect, I found the interview with John Walker as a renown and respected administrator, quite enthusing and engaging to say the least. He spoke of his affable nature when it involved dealing with relevant stakeholders in the managing of affairs at the school. Indeed, managing people is the single biggest important role of an effective administrator. He also aptly captured the “hot topics” or issues that currently face the education field such as security, transition to leadership and new legislation among others. More importantly, he was able to highlight the critical issues surrounding the sector which are in great need for reform, and yet came across as a realist as opposed to an idealist.