Education plays a crucial role in forming a new generation and preparing children to become active members of society. Therefore, it is necessary to foster an inclusive, supportive, and ethical school environment that helps both students and teachers achieve their goals and reach their aspirations. In this paper, in my capacity as a school principal, I will reflect on my school and propose strategies to address conditions linked with the school environment and practices to promote an inclusive, ethical community.
As a school principal in Dubai, responsible for the education of female students from grade 5 to grade 8, I realize the importance of having an inclusive and supportive school environment. I believe teacher feedback on school context is crucial as teachers deal with students firsthand and are aware of issues and concerns the administration may not be familiar with. Teachers directly impact the quality of education their students receive and can shape the learners’ relationship with the education system and their view on it. Therefore, it is important to ensure teachers are offered support and that their ideas, needs, and aspirations are acknowledged and achieved.
Several conditions can help the teaching staff reach their goals. According to Teacher Voice Report 2010-2014 (2016), they include belonging, heroes, a sense of accomplishment, fun and excitement, curiosity and creativity, the spirit of adventure, leadership and responsibility, and confidence to act. Within the context of my school, fun and excitement and the spirit of adventure are not being adequately fulfilled. The fun and excitement condition refers to the teaching staff being emotionally invested in their profession and fostering a fun environment for students (Teacher Voice Report 2010-2014, 2016). This condition has declined due to the teachers experiencing burnout associated with COVID-19 (Weißenfels et al., 2022). Informal monthly events for teachers can be instituted to facilitate communication as well as collaboration and work on fun activities for students together. The spirit of adventure is the ability to try new things in the workplace (Teacher Voice Report 2010-2014, 2016). Due to the decline in fun and excitement, most teachers seized to try new ideas in the classroom. This condition can be enhanced by inviting guest speakers and teachers to the school to inspire teachers and propose new ideas.
Although I can confidently describe the environment in my school as highly inclusive, additional practices can be implemented to promote inclusivity and ethical behavior of both students and teachers. As all students are different and learning approaches vary, it is crucial to ensure that different instructional methods are used to facilitate better learning outcomes (Lathan, 2021). For example, the same assignment can be explained to students using verbal directions, text, pictures, or pictorial instructions. Moreover, a safe space for teachers can be instituted to allow them to express their opinions, provide feedback, and share their journey concerning inclusion and diversity. According to Bourke and Titus (2020), the opportunity to recognize and share own biases encourages an inclusive and ethical community within any organization. The practice of acknowledging own biases as well as different instructional methods can be incorporated into the school’s code of conduct as some of the expectations teachers should fulfill.
In summary, an inclusive, ethical environment is paramount for an educational facility, and both students and teachers can benefit from it. Within the context of the school that I am the principal of, the fun and excitement and the spirit of adventure conditions should be addressed to ensure teachers are able to reach their own goals and objectives. Furthermore, additional practices, such as different instruction methods and safe spaces for expression, can be instituted to promote an inclusive and ethical environment.
Bourke, J., & Titus, A. (2020). The key to inclusive leadership. Harvard Business Review.
Lathan, J. (2021). 4 proven inclusive education strategies for educators (Plus 6 helpful resources). The University of San Diego.
Teacher Voice Report 2010-2014. (2016). Corwin Press.
Weißenfels, M., Klopp, E., & Perels, F. (2022). Changes in teacher burnout and self-efficacy during the COVID-19 pandemic: Interrelations and variables related to change. Frontiers in Education, 6, 1–9.