As someone 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
the level of training of the teachers
the relations between the teachers and the head
the relations between the teachers themselves
relations between the pupils and the teachers
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
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
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
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.
(You may wish to explore the following questions by yourself,
or, perhaps with some friends or colleagues informally in a
(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 supervision 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 the head will be blamed. If the subject
teacher delays in preparing assessments for his or her subject,
the class teacher will be late in preparing the report cards
for the end of term. Then, the pupils may not be given their
reports to take home.
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 all 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, three stages are involved:
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.
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.
This is the stage of mutual understanding based on trust and
acceptance of each other's good and bad points, weaknesses
Human relations and motivation
Read through the list, and then place the ten items in rank
order, that is, rank 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 list in Fig 7 includes a number of items which might be
factors which effect the quality of performance of the teachers
in a school.
Fig 7 Factors affecting quality of teacher performance
The performance of teachers in a school will be improved
they are given an increase in salary
they have a feeling of job security
they are supplied with all the basic resources required
the head regularly consults with them
their work is appreciated
the school is a good one
there are opportunities for promotion and personal
they are paid on time
disciplining is tactful
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
know what their supervisors think about their work
- they feel encouraged when their own knowledge of the subject
be consulted when there are changes to be made in their
have a leader who is able to listen and to welcome
suggestions; sympathise with personal problems and gives 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.
What is your comment on the following case? Consider:
(1) Should the teacher be disciplined for being absent without
(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 maitain
the motivation of your teachers?
The Absentee Teacher
Mrs Masiga, a teacher, has come to Mr Lawal, the school
head to ask for permission to be away for three days. Her
maid has left suddenly and she has nobody at home to look
after her three month old baby. She wants to go to look for
another maid. The school is already short of teachers. Mr
Lawal tells Mrs Masiga that looking for a maid 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
Mrs Masiga does not come to work.
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.
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
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
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
needs 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
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
(1) Prepare a list of the different ways in which you, as a
school head, 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 does this affect
your work as a head? What can you do to help in solving this
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 work mates. 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
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
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 should be ready to meet parents and other members
of the public who come to the school to obtain information
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:
Parent-Teacher Association meetings
Open Days in the school
Speech and Prize Giving 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
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.
(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
(3) What factors tend to give a school a bad image in its local
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 schools in some countries
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. 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.