One thing that parents, teachers, students and even principals around the world have in common is the wish to be part of a quality school. They may want different things from such a facility, yet the yearning to be part of something special holds them all. A quality school is not something that appears everywhere at the same time. It is a place that comes all too rarely in every country and indeed, the countries’ needs differ enough to make such a special place a “diamond in the rough.” They differ so much, in fact, that for the sake of time this article will focus mainly on what characteristics make a quality school in Thailand.
Many would argue that there are no set attributes for what is considered a “good” school, but quite a few authors of previously written articles would disagree. An Ashoka Contributor (Ashoka “is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide”) reported that a highly rated school would have, “Supportive environmental conditions.” This can mean anything from: Do the students have safe transportation to and from school, to: Are the students happy with their teacher(s)? Do the students feel secure in their educational experience and have confidence in those providing said experience?
This leads us to a quote from Ross Morrison McGill (Guardian Teacher of the Year in Secondary School in London 2004) in his own article about outstanding schools: Staff relished working, and I loved Monday mornings again. I couldn’t get to school quick enough. In short, staff worked together and supported each other. Students enjoyed their studies, coupled with an array of enrichment opportunities and great successes.
In order to provide the type of educational experiences that students desire, teachers need to be happy and confident in themselves. They need to have respect for the director and confidence in his/her vision and abilities, along with the support staff that keeps the school running. They need to have faith that their past degree(s) and educational experiences are up for the task ahead of them, along with the focus on teaching that can only come if they are certain their visa and immigration status is on firm footing.
So you see, there is no one thing that makes up a quality school. It is a web of characteristics which depend upon one another to function as a whole. The more confident of a director or principal’s backing and vision teachers are, the more likely they will show loyalty and go the extra mile for their school. If students see how dedicated their teachers are, they are more likely to put forth extra effort in their studies and competitions because knowledge has been imparted to them in ways that motivated them to learn. According to the Ashoka Contributor this should lead to, “A school-wide climate of high expectations.”
That “climate of high expectations” is hard to miss, especially for parents. Parents send their children to what they think is a high quality school and hope that their high expectations match that of the school. Then they will do their best to motivate their children to work hard and the teacher(s) to teach well. Good parents are pearls beyond price. They may spend their time helping out with homework at home or even volunteer in the classroom. The enrollment of their children alone adds to the budget of the school and may allow the facilities to be modernized to high standards. With good communications, parents, the teacher(s) and the school make an unbeatable team that can’t help but succeed in their primary goal: to educate the students of that school.
The marks of a quality school are many and varied. The school must have an atmosphere of learning that comes from students ready and willing to learn. It must have qualified and dedicated teachers who enjoy their work and focus upon that work each and every day. A quality school is led by a director or principal who holds respect and a vision that those who attend the school support. And last but definitely not least, a quality school has parents who are willing to work both with the school and their children to help ensure that the “climate of high expectations” that first drew them to the school in the first place doesn’t fade away.
Jay Chambers is year 1 homeroom teacher at MIS.