Thirty-eight-year-old and vibrant KesineeVatanasombot is director of the family-owned Maneerut Kindergarten School in Bangkok, Thailand. She just earned her master’s degree in London when she enrolled, and later graduated from the Instructional and Curricular Excellence in School Leadership for Southeast Asia (ICeXCELS) Thailand, Class 4 under Dr. David Catanyag as Flexible Learning Tutor.
What challenged her imagination the most, in the course, was the concept of “instructional leadership” in Module I. Based on this concept, Kesinee understood that her role as an instructional leader, was to inspire all stakeholders of the school to work as a team towards the attainment of the vision of offering quality education, through a holistic approach that necessitates curricular revision, improved teachers’ competencies and attitudes, increased participation of students in the learning process, and parents’ active involvement. With the competition posed by other schools in the area, Kesinee was determined to try on this leadership style to enhance the school’s service quality.
Kesinee and the teachers made the curriculum more responsive to the learning needs of the kids, based on the student-centered Reggio Emilia Approach to education. Science and technology courses were enhanced, balanced with lessons in the arts, music, language and the opportunity to explore the natural environment. Positive discipline was reinforced, making students more responsible for their actions. Publicising the curriculum engaged the parents to give their views and comments.
Trainings improved teachers’ competencies to match curricular enhancement. Teachers started utilizing technology to prepare their lessons and to create interesting presentations. Their knowledge of pedagogical methods and skills in classroom management were sharpened. They shifted paradigm and attitude by focusing the teaching-learning spotlight on the students. They made learning an avenue for latter to express their creativity in a fun way.
With the cooperation of all stakeholders coupled with a sense of cultural sensitivity, Kesinee was likewise able to successfully modify one of the parents’ practices, that previously had a negative impact on the community. She was also able to protect students from the swine flu scare; and positively dealt with some of them who were disturbing the school’s neighbourhood by their noise.
The number of students on the school’s waiting list for next year’s enrolment has increased. Kesinee is assured, her instructional leadership is working magic.
Weraporn Werapong was principal of Wat Phosamrarn (Phaikard) School—a primary school in Sing Buri, Thailand—when she took the flexible learning course on ICeXCELS Thailand during its second run. Weraporn was part of Class 4 under flexible learning tutor Dr. Ester Raagas. Inspired by learnings gained from the ICeXCELS course, Weraporn introduced changes and enhancements in the school she served. Among these changes were on the teaching styles of teachers and on the learning styles of students. On the teaching styles of teachers, Weraporn encouraged them to use multi-media technologies for their class lessons. Initially, Weraporn had difficulty convincing the teachers to adopt this new style in their teaching. Eventually, however, the teachers saw the positive impact of using multi-media technologies so they adopted it. In effect, the students became more interested in the lessons and were more motivated to learn.Aside from this, the students were also winning in inter-school competitions. It was clear that the changes helped improve the teachers’ competence and raise students’ achievements. The parents of the students appreciated Weraporn’s leadership even more because of these. Weraporn also worked to improve on her instructional supervision. She realized that as school head, she also needs to be a coach, a guide, and a trainer for the teachers, and for the students, as well. Her initiatives were geared towards achieving quality education by providing expert guidance to the teachers, and by responding to students’ needs so they will be successful and active global citizens. Weraporn was likewise eager to grow more with the application of the principles of transformational leadership. She knew that she needs to be a strong role model (idealized influence), communicate clearly, and provide inspiration. She devised ways to cultivate positive relations with the stakeholders in the community to gain support for school activities and development projects. Through these improved relations and despite the school’s limited budget, it was able to improve its facilities and acquire new teaching-learning resources, among others. Weraporn believes that quality education goes beyond the boundaries of the classrooms. Thus was her belief when she started working on the “tom-tom” recreation of a historical drama regarding the Bang Rachan heroes of Sing Buri. Weraporn worked on the project for almost a year and it won the school many gold awards in various competitions held in the central and eastern parts of Thailand. Weraporn challenges other school principals like her to be “open to new approaches (in gaining) knowledge, and introduce innovations.” She further suggests to “integrate knowledge and experiences to improve yourself, your team … and your students for them to live a happy life.” As a general rule, Weraporn believes that her role as school manager and leader allows her the opportunity to be a futurist. She works hard to provide the drive and the vision to create, innovate, and motivate for the betterment of the school, the teachers, and the students.
Having been newly promoted in 2009 as school principal of Sampaloc National High School, Lerma Labrador-Flandez, was deeply grateful to have been admitted to the ICeXCELS Program, Batch 1, Class 13 under flexible learning tutor Dr. Ophelia P. Veniegas.
After finishing the course and still fired up by her experience in the ICeXCELS, Lerma set out to address two academic concerns—how to maximize the learning potential of fast learners on one hand, and how to help slow learners cope with school work, on the other hand.
Summoning her instructional leadership skills honed during the ICeXCELS course, she tapped the expertise, knowledge, and skills of the school’s department heads, teachers and the ICT coordinator. She formed them into a team that rallied behind her vision of establishing an instructional enrichment program that would benefit both fast and slow learners. The program consisted of two projects: Project EC (Enrichment Curriculum) and Project REEF-ComBRI (Reading Enhancement in English and Filipino through a Computer-Based Reading Intervention). Principal Lerma was deeply grateful for the cooperation of her team, especially the teachers who agreed to teach the enhancement subjects and tutorials sans additional pay. Principal Lerma likewise oriented the students and their parents about the program so that they will give their utmost support to the program, which they did.
Project EC provided fast learners with additional academic preparations. It also enriched their knowledge, and honed their skills. It also prepared them to confidently participate in division and regional academic competitions. It offered four elective subjects taught once a week for an hour each, with Friday as research day. Students were graded and were required to write down in learning logs or journals their thoughts, reflections, difficulties and successes relative to their additional subjects.
Project REEF-ComBRI, on the other hand, provided remedial lessons in English, Mathematics, Science, Araling Panlipunan and Filipino to second year students who were struggling in these subjects. Subject teachers tutored them every Thursday and Friday, for an hour after regular classes.
The impact of the program on the students concerned has been very encouraging. Teachers and parents observed that students in the enrichment classes had become more confident in sharing their ideas, in using the English language, and in leading their fellow schoolmates on classroom activities. Parents likewise observed that their children had become more responsible in their studies, and had shown greater confidence in expressing their views. Indeed, the program built the students’ self-esteem which, in turn, refined their character, and made them more alert, alive and happy.
Lerma’s experience proved that teachers are number one in the list of learning resources. Hence, according to her, they should be treated and managed well. Likewise, Principal Lerma is profoundly grateful to ICeXCEL for helping her gain a full grasp of her roles as school head, along the line of four domains: school management; school communications; school community relations; and instructional supervision, which as she admitted, “served as my guide in leading the school.”
Lerma is now connected with Rizal National Science High School as Principal III
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