It’s no secret InternationalSchoolsReview.com hosts both positive and negative reviews of international schools. Recently, we were asked to reflect on why some schools receive glowing reports and others are burdened with descriptions warning perspective candidates to stay clear. More than one international school director has been quick to answer that poor reviews are simply the result of disgruntled employees, and the situation at the school is not as portrayed. Obviously, not everyone sees it this way, especially the disgruntled employees.
To answer the question of positive versus negative reviews, we examined hundreds of school reviews and concluded that the quality of an international school, and the level of teacher, student and parent satisfaction is directly proportionate to the level of ethical conduct demonstrated by the administrator. Yes, it appears the school director exerts the strongest influence on a school’s overall atmosphere and character.
As we looked over reviews we noted that schools receiving poor comments under a particular director often received more positive comments when that administrator left the school. This equation also worked in reverse with some schools suddenly receiving negative comments shortly after the arrival of a new director. Looking at schools with all complimentary reports we discovered the reviewers almost always reflected positively on the director as the main figure responsible for creating the high level of satisfaction. No one said, “This is a great school and I feel valued even though the director is a shortsighted micro manager”.
Accepting that international school directors are ultimately responsible for setting the overall tone and tenure of a school, we at ISR decided to examine what school administrators should be doing to earn the respect of their staff and school community.
Our inquiry lead to three well-known organizations that have defined the characteristics of a respected administrator. We’ll ask for your input at the close of this article and encourage you to also submit a Admin Report.
The Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) reports that a School Director Should Act Fairly, Ethically, and With Integrity.
A School Leader that Acts with Integrity:
· Demonstrates a respect for the rights of others with regard to confidentiality and dignity
· Engages in honest interactions
· Sets tone for how employees and students interact with one another and with members of the school and larger community
· Accepts responsibility for using position ethically and constructively
A School Leader that Acts Fairly
· Demonstrates impartiality and sensitivity to student diversity
· Demonstrates ethical considerations in their interactions with others
· Shows concern for others as well as for the organization and the position
A School Leader that Acts Ethically
· Makes and explains decisions based upon ethical principles
· Develops the ability to examine personal and professional values that reflect a code of ethics
· Serves as a role model
· Acts as an advocate for all children
From Including Ethics in the Study of Educational Leadership in the Journal of College and Character, we discovered a similar list but in more concise form.
An Ethical School Leader is:
· Acts with Integrity
· Acts with Respect
Our Final Example Comes From The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards for School Leaders.
· Serves as a role model
· Accepts responsibility for school operations
· Considers the impact of one’s administrative practices on others
· Uses the influence of the office to enhance the educational program rather than for personal gain
· Recognizes and respects the legitimate authority of others
· Expects others in the school community will demonstrate integrity and exercise ethical behavior
· Opens the school to public scrutiny
· Fulfills legal and contractual obligations
· Applies laws and procedures fairly, wisely and considerately
We asked the International Education Community to answer the following questions:
• If you feel International School Directors should be held accountable to the standards outlined in this article, who should be holding them accountable?
• Have you worked for an administrator who did model these characteristics? Please describe your experience.
• Have you worked for an administrator who did not model these characteristics? Please describe your experience.