There are only two factors that define high-performing schools, according to Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, the leadership of the principal and the participation of the community.
Expounding on the first, the renowned mathematician and former Ateneo de Manila University president said a good principal, above all, protects class time. He cited the case of Lupang Pangako Elementary School where the principal made sure that four hours of class time was really dedicated to four full hours of lessons. It should not be disrupted by extra activities even as simple as school announcements. Lines were formed to manage congestion of human traffic within school premises and parents were prevented from coming in during school hours. The principal’s dedication drastically improved the output of the elementary school in the depressed town of Payatas in Quezon City.
“Principals’ role is very important, you can really transform your school,” Fr. Ben encouraged during Synergeia’s workshop for over 100 principals in January.
He offered a way to maximize the use of percentile ranking to better measure student capabilities. “By knowing the percentile, you can strategize for students of different levels. Identify those who are in the 90 percentile, 75, 50 and 25,” he said. In this way, appropriate programs can be applied to those in the top and bottom ranking. “If 90% of students in public schools, then 90% of talent is there and must be found. Develop them for science schools for example, while those in 25 percentile need help with remedial classes.”
A Virtual Cycle of Good Teachers
He also encouraged school heads to prepare teachers by sending them to appropriate trainings that will help them with day to day teaching. “Teaching is a craft,” he said.
“The best people to do the training are master elementary teachers because they don’t only have the expertise but also know the situation,” Fr. Ben said. “A school needs a master teacher that mentors other teachers,” he said. He urged principals to have teachers pass on good methods in order to develop a virtual cycle of good teachers.
In the same forum, DepEd Undersecretary Lino Rivera noted that the master teacher position had been used by some as a mere stepping stone to become principals hence, some schools are deprived of experts who could have passed on the craft to new teachers. He said the DepEd will implement a career track change for master teachers to address this problem.