Highlights from Enseña Ecuador’s First Summer Institute

Earlier this month, Enseña Ecuador’s inaugural cohort of Jóvenes Líderes (young leaders) entered their classrooms, met their students, and gave their first official lessons as teachers–excited to put into practice what they learned at Instituto de Verano (Summer Institute) the program’s rigorous pre-service training program. Incorporating pedagogy, practice, and content knowledge along with in-classroom teaching experience, the Instituto de Verano is just the first step in a professional development program that will continue throughout the participants’ initial two-year teaching commitment.

As the Instituto de Verano came to a close in August, we caught up with Enseña Ecuador’s Coordinator of Recruitment, Selection and Matriculation, Juan Pablo Martinez, who shared some of the highlights of the experience with us:

On preparing for the first Instituto de Verano:

We wanted to find logic and meaning in each of our actions. Every session had to be planned so it would have structure, the right timing and sequence, and most importantly, so our Jóvenes Líderes would feel at home, because they were about to be faced with long, demanding work days.

On the excitement of watching the Jóvenes Líderes in action:

We hosted the institute in our office. We were so excited to be able to work right alongside the participants, see them in action in summer school, and listen to them share their dreams of transforming their classrooms, schools, and communities. The Instituto de Verano brought us closer to realizing our vision, but we know it’s just one of the thousands of steps we have yet to take.

On working in the schools and communities in which the participants will be teaching:

We were able to see the education gap that exists in our country—kids who were going into 8th grade who should have been in 4th grade—which moved and motivated us. We saw how certain institutions treat education as a business and often lose focus on the quality of education and the impact it has on children. The Jóvenes Lideres realized that achieving our vision wasn’t going to be easy—and that being in the classroom is only a small part of the process—but these experiences just made us even more determined.

On celebrating their successes:

We achieved great results overall. Some highlights:

  • Up to 150% improvement in  student performance during summer school
  • 92% of our Jóvenes Líderes reached our rubric level of Emerging Teachers.
  • Our focus on the creation of a strong cultural program enabled us to develop a sense of belonging and a shared vision between the staff and the Jóvenes Líderes.

On the benefits of being part of a global network:

We had the opportunity to see how EnseñaPeru managed their summer institute in January 2013, which was an invaluable experience for us. We were able to understand how important it is to create the culture we envision, to develop rituals that enable us to feel like we’re part of a family: eating together, reflecting on our experiences, supporting one another in the most challenging moments.

As part of the network, we were also able to rely on and learn from experienced alumni and staff members from other partners, including Enseña por Argentina and EnseñaPeru. They reminded us how important it is to prioritize details and to ensure that all of the Jóvenes Líderes feel comfortable with honestly and openly expressing themselves with us.

On the journey ahead:

The first step is for our participants to have an impact in the classroom with our support for their development. Then we’ll begin the process of reflecting on each of the functional areas of the program, implementing every lesson learned so we can improve and start our second recruitment campaign.

Spreading support across the region:

During Enseña Ecuador’s Instituto de Verano, participants from EnseñaPeru shared a video demonstrating that while the road ahead may be long—and there will be obstacles along the way—it’s worth every step.

“There is no question that this video came at the precise moment when it was needed most. Many of our participants were feeling anxious and nervous about where they were assigned to teach. After watching the video, they realized that whether their assigned classroom was five minutes or 10 hours away was irrelevant, because the only thing that mattered was to make a difference in the lives of their students. They saw that they were not alone, which reinforced their sense of possibility, and they were even more committed to fighting for a better education in their country.” — Juan Pablo Martinez

Learn more about Enseña Ecuador and watch a video of Instituto de Verano 2014.