Education, Opinions, Travel

Instructional Leaders: From the Spectrum of the Rural Community

Perhaps, this is the best time to reflect about the previously discussed topic, principal leadership. We used to expect a lot from the school head. Most of which are skills that entails good leadership and instructional management.

Last weekend, I was privileged enough that I was able to immerse myself in one of the farthest elementary school of the Mt. Province. And it changed my perspective, and the way I perceived how challenging the roles of a school leaders are. In the urban setting like NCR, where the common challenges among principals are scarcity of competent teachers and overcrowded classrooms (in a public-school setting). However, in my immersion, I learned that, in most school like where we went to, scarcity isn’t just about few things. For this case, they lack almost everything. Lucky enough, they still have decent classroom with old wooden desks. The wall is decorated with self-made instructional materials trying to comply with the requirements of the K12 mandate.

Day before the outreach activity, I was given the privilege to talk to one of the seven teachers of the school. She narrated how hard it is for them. She mentioned about the need to shell-out personal money for the instructional materials. To adhere to the new curriculum, they need to find ways on their own. No one tells them whether these things are the right way to do it. But the concern really is, not all the teachers are like her. Some just go with the flow of poverty. Their teacher-in-charge is new. According to them, the last school leader was petitioned to be removed by the parents because of unstated reasons.

Our main purpose of visit was to deliver some school supplies and hygiene kits among the students. Surprisingly, there are three more schools farther than where we are, who would like us to visit their school too. Another thing that surprised me was that, the teachers requested us to conduct a training regarding the use of ICT and instructional material making on our next visit. I admire them for showing interest on how they will able to improve their skills to becoming more effective.

Another immediate reaction was, then what was the role of the TIC? They supposed to be the instructional leaders. However, it seems that, it’s becoming least among their priorities. Ideally, in the perfect world, the principal should have strict balance between his or her many roles. But for clarity, I would like to emphasize that in some extreme cases, these school leaders are asked to do even more than what is expected from them. Principals deals with not just the concerns of whether the instructions and the contents have been delivered efficiently. But in the context of instructional leadership, this is one thing that should not be neglected.

Sadly, the reality is, with such scenarios and overwhelming challenges they are up to, least that they care much more than how the school will operate and run. How to ensure that there will be students who would still choose to attend the class despite of hunger and poverty. How to ensure that these learners will hold on to the ‘hope’ that education can change their lives. How to deliver the message of resilience to the community including the parents.  More than the balances that we keep on talking about, sometimes what the school heads in this part of the country needs are information, knowledge, and support from the administrator, NGOs or the government agencies. Because these administrator are fighting not against their will or willingness to be a good instructional leader, but against scarcity (including lack of skills to deal with such issues).

With that context, I personally believe, that the student learning and performance is at stake if we keep on ignoring the problem. “The world has made tremendous progress towards Education for All,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. “Despite not meeting the 2015 deadline, millions more children are in
school than would have been had the trends of the 1990s persisted. However, the agenda is far
from finished. We need to see specific, well-funded strategies that prioritize the poorest –
especially girls – , improve the quality of learning and reduce the literacy gap so that education becomes meaningful and universal.”

Catao

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