In 2014, Allen Glen High School started their e-learning journey with ITSI and three years later, Principal Dr Johan Wiehahn, still believes that it was the right move. Initially they wanted to move away from hard copy textbooks, but did not want to disrupt their teaching and learning. Today, we are proud to say that Allen Glen is one of the schools that constantly challenges ITSI to create even better tools to assist schools through technology.
To successfully implement an e-learning strategy within a school, you need a leader such as Dr Wiehahn driving the process. Under his leadership, teachers receive training and guidance and are encouraged to fully embrace e-learning in their teaching methods.
The role of a principal in the successful day-to-day running of a school can never be overestimated. Even though a school’s main focus is education, it operates very similar to a business. Principals aren’t trained to become a Managing Director, yet they need to take on the same responsibilities, but without the support staff of a similar sized business. Over a two-year period, Dr Wiehahn focussed his Doctorate studies on the Professional Development of Principals. In many cases, a teacher is promoted to being the principal of a school from a level one teacher’s position with the minimum job requirement being seven years’ teaching experience. This, in no way, prepares you for the task ahead. As Dr Wiehahn says: “You run the risk of making a lot of mistakes”.
According to Section 16 of the South African Schools Act, principals are responsible for everything that happens at their schools. At no point can the principal turn around and say that “I did not know or was not aware of the consequences of my decisions”. Dr Wiehahn’s study shows that there are many aspects that principals don’t know how to handle or did not have previous exposure to, for example, managing conflict.
In an ideal world, principals should be taught in the managerial aspects of running a business – financial management and strategic planning is of essence. Dr Wiehahn further proposes that principals should have someone they can go to for guidance, a principal who knows the process, understands a school, and can give advice in dealing with the challenges within a school environment.
Principals should be equipped with the necessary skills to perform the task at hand. This is exactly what Dr Wiehahn sees as the benefit of his study: “Not only have I broadened my own knowledge base, but I am now able to give back and share my knowledge with others”.
At the core of every great teacher is a human being who wants to enrich the lives of others. And Dr Johan Wiehahn is such a teacher – truly making a difference.