Sunday, May 15, 2016

School Visits (Day 4)

School Visits (Day 4)

by Rey Laguda

(This is the DepEd USec Rey Laguda's Day 4 of 50-day journey being serialized here with his permission, culled from his Facebook account. - Blogger/owner)

From Day One, Br. Armin Luistro, FSC has always instructed the whole executive team to visit schools. In fact, we visited a school on our first day at DepEd. We went to Rafael Palma Elementary School after spending some time at the Central Office. I remember going to the principals's office on one of the higher floors while Br. Armin started to go around and observe classes. Nobody really knew us then. I entered the office and waited for my turn since they seemed to be having a meeting. When I was finally asked, I said Br. Armin was downstairs observing class. They all rushed out and left me all alone in the office. On the same visit, a SPED teacher proudly declared to Br. that she was a graduate of DLSU and that she was really elated that Br. took on the role of Secretary. It was a teary-eyed moment that remains vivid to this day.

DepEd Secretary Luistro's school visit
DepEd Secretary Luistro's school visit
School visits are an important component of our schedules. Every opportunity we get, we take to visit schools whether unannounced or not. The visits bring to fore what happens in the front lines. It gives policy makers the opportunity to have a fresh perspective, to confirm certain hypotheses, validate reports, and understand nuances. In addition, it allows us the opportunity to interact with learners, teachers and administrative personnel. I have always liked the reference of customer interaction as the "moment of truth." For us in DepEd, this is one such experience. I have discovered and learned many things in my school visits. Leaders at the division and regional level are likewise encouraged to visit schools as much as possible even when there is no specific occasion. All Management Committee meetings (gathering of the Directors, Assistant Secretaries, Undersecretaries, and the Secretary) include visits to schools wherever the venue may be.

School visits are an important component for servant leadership. They are necessary for successful policy-making. Most importantly, visits put a face to the work we do. It provides for a wonderful exchange of stories, messages, and births inspiration and hope. With more than 48,000 schools, it will take a lifetime to visit all of these schools. But we do what we can. To date, I have lost count of the number of schools I have visited since joining DepEd. There have easily been hundreds. But the experience takes away any ounce of physical fatigue. Meeting teachers, hearing their stories of heroism and understanding their challenges. Meeting students, too, and hearing them share aspirations and dreams. I get the opportunity to teach even for a short while. Every now and then, we're also lucky to meet parents and engage them in talks about the importance of education for their kids.

Hopefully, school visits continue as a management and supervisory practice void of the pressure from schools to feed, to give something or to prepare. Hopefully, school visits become a sustainable practice for continuous improvement, feedback and interaction. May it be a celebration of the miracle of teaching and learning that changes lives and makes dreams a reality.


Note: Three years ago, RA 10533 was signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III.



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