Friday, August 29, 2008

Human and Public Relations

Unit 4

As a headteacher who is responsible for a large number of people you will almost certainly agree that it is important for you to understand something about the behaviour of the people in your school organisation. The human factor in schools may cause problems and failure, or may lead to success, depending on the behaviour of the teachers, pupils, parents and all the other members of the school community. Apart from the nature and availability of the material and financial resources that are provided, the success of a school will also depend on:
¨ the level of training of the teachers
¨ the relations between the teachers and the head
¨ the relations between the teachers themselves
¨ the relations between the pupils and the teachers
¨ the relations between the school and the surrounding community.

In this unit you will study the relations between people and how this affects their work. From this you should understand how these relations affect the nature and quality of management in our educational institutions.

Individual study time: 3 hours

Learning outcomes
After working through this unit you should be able to:
¨ understand the importance of good human relations and communications in providing a suitable working environment for the teachers, pupils and non‑teaching staff
¨ improve the motivation of the teachers and the pupils so as to ensure the success of the school
¨ establish and maintain good working relations with the educational authorities
¨ gain the support of the community in which the school is situated.

What are human relations?
We all belong to human society. In everyday life we live and work with people: they may be our family members or neighbours or friends or other relatives, or they may be people we work with in our places of employment. Whoever they are, we recognise their presence and relate to them through various means of communication.

We may say that human relations is being together with other people and interacting with them.

Human relations in a working place
As a head of a school your work will involve the following:

¨ planning the activities of the school
¨ organising the resources to be used, which includes getting the equipment and materials required; assigning work to each member of staff, agreeing how it should be done and when it should be done and ensuring that the work is done
¨ maintaining high standards of education in your school.

Activity 4.1
You may wish to explore the following questions by yourself, or, perhaps with some other trainees or colleagues informally in a group.
(1) Would the work listed above be for you alone as the head, or would other people also be involved?
(2) In what ways would other people be involved in each of these aspects of your work? What has this to do with human relations?
(3) Why is an understanding of human relations important to the head of any institution?

In every working place each person must be given his or her duties. The school head organises the programme for the school. He or she carries out the monitoring necessary to ensure that the programme is followed. Each teacher prepares a scheme of work, lesson plans and assessment records for their class. In addition some of the teachers may be in charge of out of class activities. At the end of each school term progress reports are prepared for the pupils. If the head does not produce the school timetable in good time, teaching may be delayed at the beginning of the term. The syllabuses may not be covered sufficiently. If the teachers do not prepare their schemes and lesson plans, the pupils may not be taught properly. When this happens, it is the responsibility of the head. He or she must organise it. If the subject teacher delays in preparing assessments for his or her subject, the class teacher will be late in completing the end of term assessments. Then, parents will not be informed of pupil progress.

In the working place therefore, we need to recognise that what others do affects our own work and our work affects what they do. This is because all the different tasks in an organisation are inter‑related, and the individ­uals in the organisation have a working relationship. Ensuring that everyone works in an agreed fashion is essential if all the staff are to work together harmoniously and effectively.

What do we know about the techniques of forming human relations? You will know that when two people meet and establish either friendly or working relations, the three stages listed below are involved.

Exploration phase
This involves seeking clues and information for forming opinions and impressions about each other. In schools, this phase should be planned, detailed and extensive. Learn about yourself and the people you work with.

Consolidation phase
First impressions can be deceptive due to misleading information. Repeated behaviour patterns help in gauging levels of frankness, openness, truthful­ness, reliability, credibility and integrity of a person. You may find it helpful to keep records on the behaviour of pupils and staff to help you understand them.

Preservation phase
This is the stage of mutual understanding based on trust and acceptance of each other's good and bad points, weaknesses and strengths.

Human relations and motivation

Staff motivation

Activity 4.2
The list below includes a number of items which are factors which might affect the quality of performance of the teachers in a school.

Read through the list, and then place the ten items in rank order with the most important factor 1, the second 2, and so on. The factor which you consider as least important will have a rank of 10.

The performance of teachers in a school will be improved if:

¨ they are given an increase in salary
¨ they have a feeling of job security
¨ they are supplied with all the basic resources required to teach
¨ the head regularly consults with them
¨ their work is appreciated
¨ quality monitoring and supervision takes place
¨ there are opportunities for promotion and personal development
¨ they are paid on time
¨ they are given advice to improve the quality of their teaching
¨ they receive sympathetic help with problems

The way you have ranked these questions is likely to depend, to a large extent, upon the culture and the context within which you live and work. Experts on management have observed that people in their place of work like to:

¨ feel that their work is regarded as important ‑ they do not like to be idle
¨ be praised for what they have done, but not to be blamed ‑ they fear to admit mistakes in public
¨ are given good advice as a result of monitoring and evaluation of their work
¨ know what their managers think about their work ‑ they feel encouraged when their own knowledge of the subject is appreciated
¨ be consulted when there are changes to be made in their organisation
¨ have a leader who is able to listen and to welcome suggestions
¨ sympathise with personal problems and give advice; show justice in dealing with problems concerning relations between staff; give respect to all workers, whether in low or high positions in the organisation; say
¨ 'Thank you' when good work is done and also to admit mistakes
¨ feel secure in their job ‑ nobody wants to work in a place where they feel they are not wanted, or where they are threatened with dismissal
¨ feel that they are appreciated by their fellow workers

Whether these factors are the ones which motivate your teachers in your school in your country would be very interesting to find out. What is impor­tant is that you realise the range and diversity of things which motivate people. Even a small thing like greeting your staff and pupils in a way which is generally accepted may make a difference.

Case study
Please read the following case study:

The absentee teacher
A primary school teacher, has come to the school head to ask for permission to be away for three days. Her nanny has left suddenly and she has nobody at home to look after her three month old baby. She wants to go to look for someone else to look after her child.

The school is already short of teachers. The Head tells her that looking for a nanny does not concern the school. She should make other arrangements to get one without affecting her work. He reminds her that the District Education Officer may visit the school any time during that week. He does not want any class to be found without a teacher. He refuses to give her permission. But the following morning the teacher does not come to work.

Activity 4.3
What is your comment on the following case? Consider:
1) Should the teacher be disciplined for being absent without permission?
2) What effect might this have on the motivation of the other staff who have children?
3) What actions would you take in this situation to maintain the motivation of your teachers?

A difficult case, and there is unlikely to be a right answer, but you will prob­ably
have noted that this example is an illustration of poor human relations and you may have suggested the need for improved communications and focused on the importance of working together and shared responsibilities.

The role of head is a difficult one. On the one hand s(he) must put the school first but must also recognise that to get the best out of people we must be sympathetic to their problems. Perhaps there were compromises that could have been made in this case. Maybe the child could have been brought to school for a day. Maybe she only needed one day to search for a nanny.

Pupil motivation
Like their teachers, the pupils in a school also need to be motivated.

Pause for a moment and think what steps might be taken to help motivate pupils.

Pupils are unlikely to be motivated unless:
¨ they are assured of care and protection in the school
¨ their problems are treated with understanding and justice
¨ the teachers show patience and are sincere in guiding them
¨ their efforts in class and in other school activities are appreciated by the teachers and the head
¨ their parents have a chance to see what they are doing in school.
¨ They can see the progress they are making and understand the reasons why they are doing what they are asked to do.

We could add other items to this list, but the important point to recognise is that it includes a wide range of factors. An understanding of the nature of motivation suggests that for learning to take place, pupils' basic needs, physiological, safety, love and belonging, must be met, as well as their need for self‑esteem and self‑fulfilment. School heads and teachers can try to ensure that external and situational factors both in and outside the class­room will stimulate their pupils to learn.

Human relations and communications
We will now examine the relationship between communication and human relations. Communication in an organisation is like the nervous system in the human body. If anything interferes with a nerve line it is no longer possible to co‑ordinate the work of the affected part with the rest of the body. Similarly, if anything interferes with the communication links between individuals in an organisation their work will be badly affected. Decisions will not be taken at the right time. Work will not be done as required. It may not even be done at all if the instructions are not communicated. Or, it may be done incorrectly, if the instructions are poorly communicated or received. Good communication is both about sending and receiving information. Good relations between sender and receiver will help ensure effective communication. Let us explore this relationship further.

Activity 4.4
1) Prepare a list of the different ways in which you, as a school head, might communicate with your teachers and pupils.
2) What affects the way you communicate with individual teachers and groups of teachers? How might this be improved?
3) Have you noticed that at times certain members of your staff do not seem to be talking to one another? How might this affect your work as a head? What can you do to help in solving this problem?

You are likely to have listed a wide range of patterns and methods of communication from meetings and loudspeaker systems through to personal one‑to‑one discussions. It may well be that some of these could be improved. You may need to check whether communications are actually getting through and consider changing your communication strategy if problems exist with current practice. We will be looking at communication and the communication process in further depth in Unit 6.

In this context, it is worth noting that many things can interfere with communication between individuals in a working place. One of these is the attitude that some people may hold against other workmates. If people we are working with know that we hold negative attitudes towards them, they will not communicate freely with us. They may even withhold certain information that is very important for carrying out a task; perhaps, for some reason, they want us to fail. It is important therefore that heads never hold a negative attitude towards their staff; or if they do, that they do not reveal it! Instead he or she should create a working environment in which all the staff are free to consult one another. Good communications and good human relations go hand‑in‑hand. This is also the case with regard to the relationship between the school and the external community.

The head as a public relations officer
A public relations officer is the spokesperson for an organisation. He or she provides information to the public on what the organisation is doing and also listens to comments by members of the public about the organisation. If these comments suggest that some justified improvements are needed, then action should be taken to bring about the required changes.

A school is part of the community in which it is situated. The members of the community in general and the parents in particular have an interest in the school because it provides education for their children. It is clear that the school head has an important role to play as a public relations officer to ensure that good relations are established between the school and the community, and with the education authorities. There are several ways of doing this.

1) The head or his / her representative (e.g. Deputy Head or Senior Teacher) should be ready to meet parents and other members of the public who come to the school to obtain information about education.
2) The head and his or her staff should be able to organise functions and ceremonies to which parents are invited. Such functions might include, for example:
¨ Parents' Teachers' Association meetings
¨ Open Days in the school
¨ Speech and Prize Giving Days
¨ Sports Days.
3) The head and staff should be encouraged to participate in some community development activities within the neighbourhood of the school.
4) Good working relations with the authorities in the Ministry and Regional Education Department will help ensure that any problems the school head encounters may be listened to with greater sympathy and that any assistance requested will be readily forthcoming. This in turn will help with community relations.
5) Encourage social interaction like school visits / games etc.

Activity 4.5
1) Can you suggest other ways in which the school head can help improve relations with the community?
2) Taking your school as an example, list down any community activities in which pupils could usefully participate, noting potential benefits for pupils, the school and the community at large.
3) What factors tend to give a school a bad image in its local community?

You will probably have been able to suggest a number of other methods for improving relations with the community. Better communications are a popular option, and some schools even produce newsletters for wider dissemination of school ideas and information. Contributions by pupils can add a further level of interest. A point perhaps worth noting is that although the head is responsible for external relations, there is of course much that can be undertaken by delegating specific tasks to members of staff.

This unit has looked at human relations in schools, drawing attention to motivational aspects and the significance of good communications. Attention has also been focused on the role of the head, staff and pupils in fostering good community relations.

It is easy for the headteacher to put blame on all around him / her for poor relations. However, the fact is that it is his / her responsibility to foster good relationships. If staff are antagonistic towards each other or towards the head, s(he) must ensure that this situation must not be allowed to continue by working hard to bring the two sides closer together. If this is not done, the school will be dysfunctional. If it is dysfunctional, children will not learn, If children do not learn, it is a failing school. We will touch on these various processes in subsequent units and modules, but we now consider the process of delegation, which is an important means by which staff can be motivated and, if used correctly, human relations improved.


Anonymous said...

I am very happy and thankful that you posted this context. It is very helpful indeed in my lessons. I will always moving forward for any new informations you're going to post here. More power.

Gyingo said...

I have been following everything you write with keen interest.In fact, i must congratulate you for your education.Would hear from me again.