The Head Teacher’s Herculean Task

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Teacher’s Diary

The head teacher’s role is indeed a staggering task. We really do not need to scratch our heads to know or be familiar with the task that comes with it. But for want of clarity and by way of introducing what the role is all about, there is need to give a simple definition. A head teacher is the most senior teacher and leader of a school, responsible for the education of all pupils, management of staff, churning out of school policies and implementation of the various school reports. He/she motivates and manages staff by delegating responsibility, setting expectations and targets and evaluating staff performance against them. In fact these roles are not at all easy to accomplish alongside the real role of caring for the young children that are ever energetic

If you are a primary school teacher, or ever been one, you would appreciate how challenging it can be to contain the after-school spirit of carefree, care-less freedom children innocently experience and display. This is why wise duty-teachers walk children into the hall or retain them in class and maintain supervised pick-ups at the end of school hours. Many young children would rather just dump their bags and make for the field for catch-up play once the bell goes!

57 year old Betty is much more than the After-School Club bus driver she is. Betty is a router, a navigator and a fishing bait, all rolled into one, as she carries out this very delicate job. Watching her at work is such a delight! Betty uses movement, vibrancy, colour and quiet confidence to ‘bait’ the school children she picks up, on time, into her bus. My God-son once told me that, “Betty never shouts, children just obey her”.

So I began to reflect on what it is about Betty that makes darting, squealing, pranking, impulsive and energy-popping school children just obey her. I didn’t have to think too deep as my God-son supplied the answer. ‘Aunty’ he said “all the children can talk to her”. This answer so innocently stated, sent me spirally soul-searching. And so I ask you today, “are you approachable enough for a child, teenager or young adult to talk to you?”

Already in the second trimester of her pregnancy, scared, confused and troubled, 13 year old Sophie Snaith (The Mirror online 20/7/18) went to her head teacher as she couldn’t bring herself to tell her parents that she was pregnant. This seemingly wise, calm, experienced and approachable principal then called in mum to break the news.

In my mind’s eye, I can see this principal thoughtfully creating a conducive atmosphere for this difficult discussion between mother and her 13 year old pregnant daughter to happen. I can see her empowering Sophie with the needed fortitude to face her own mum with this delicate and sensitive news. I can see a non-judgmental, but sensitive and empathetic head usher mum kindly into the office and invite Sophie to speak.

This principal’s ambience, tone of voice and choice of the possibly few intro-words used revealed a realisation that their professional behavior from then on, would have immense impact on how this news was received by Sophie’s parents. Not surprisingly stunned, possibly hurt and possibly disappointed mum at this meeting left that office bruised but strong. She left with these words, “…I was shocked, but at the same time, my mind kicked in and thought we will deal with this, Sophie will still have a life and we’ll make sure of that”.

Sophie did go on to suffer a great deal. She shared that she was branded disgusting and told she had ruin her life by her classmates. Furthermore, she faced cruel comments from strangers who jibed that she would never achieve at school. The principal and school continued to keep their hearts and doors open for Sophie. During her pregnancy, she attended school part time and returned four weeks after her baby was born. This month (now 16 years old) she attended her school’s prom and would be going into university to study Music this September.

By: Mrs Kehinde Omoru
Kehinde Omoru is a freelance writer, Education, Health and Social Care Advocate