My work has taken me to visit schools across Ecuador’s diverse regions: the coast and the Galapagos Islands, the Andes, and the Amazon. In each of these places, schools possess unique characteristics and, in some cases, even different school calendars! When I’m visiting a new school, I always wonder: what do these schools do to strengthen learning with the resources they have? Moreover, what are some of the best practices that I have seen in these schools that other education systems in Latin America and the Caribbean could implement?
1) Setting clear goals for teachers and education authorities, allowing them to have a clear vision of what students should learn. These goals are essential to design a specific course of action to achieve them and to ensure that all actors within the system know the final objective of their work.
2) Understanding the context and the community setting is central to developing and implementing strategies that promote learning. This includes understanding how communities function on a daily basis, how social interactions occur, and how culture and traditions shape students and teachers’ experiences. Keeping this in mind allows the development of more efficient and appropriate ways to channel resources for learning.
3) Promoting institutional regulation to ensure efficient management of the oft-limited resources available to promote learning. For instance, teaching materials and technologies must be focused on those areas that can have the most impact on learning.
4) Adapting to change. All institutions must be able to deal with change, regardless of even when it comes unexpectedly. Being able to adjust to transformation or disruptions is key if students are to achieve their learning goals in the long term. For instance, if a school sees its learning spaces somehow limited, it must have strategies in place to allow learning to continue while a solution is found.
5) Creating strategic alliances based on the institution’s knowledge of its environment and the set goals. A strategic alliance in a certain context could be establishing spaces for dialogue with local businesses so students can participate in internships or apprenticeships.
6) Fostering a sense of community that leads to more accountability and efficiency in the allocation and distribution of resources. A clear example of this is the process of sharing of student achievement results and school budgets to families and civil society organizations so as to promote transparency.
These practices have been key, my experience has shown me, to develop school management dynamics that are focused on promoting learning. The schools I have observed are organized and ran independently and respond to their local needs, managing to integrate these elements and take advantage of their contexts to achieve their goals.
Systematizing these practices can be a significant contribution to public policy in education. At the same time, these reflections promote a closer dialogue with other education systems to share successful experiences in other contexts in the region, and together, promote excellence and quality.
If you want to share best practices in school management, join the conversation on Twitter using #LideresBIDEducacion.
José Daniel Espinosa Rodríguez works for the National Institute for Evaluation in Education in Ecuador. He holds a Licenciatura in Pedagogy from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.